The Skills Service One Year On
David White is a Skills Advisor for the LEP skills service, supporting businesses in Leeds City Region to develop their workforce. Here, he reflects on the skills service one year after its launch and discusses the online Q and A session he participated in to mark the anniversary:
February marked the first anniversary of our skills service, which is delivered by myself and colleagues, supporting businesses by providing help and up to £50,000* funding to train their staff.
So far, we’ve supported over 1,500 individuals to undertake training courses and invested over £1.5 million into upskilling businesses.
To celebrate the anniversary and to make businesses across Leeds City Region aware of the opportunities for support and funding available to them, I took part in a skills-themed TwitChat along with Bev Foster, another of our skills advisors, Alistair Forbes, a LEP growth manager and skills service panel member Graham Sweeney of Schofield Sweeney Solicitors.
I was a bit of a novice to social media so the experience was a learning curve for me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was great to engage with businesses online, responding to questions live, and a really useful exercise too with some great tips for employers thinking about training their staff.
1. Invest wisely
We were asked how businesses can best invest a limited training budget. Answers from myself and other were to start with a skills audit of your workforce, see where any gaps are, and also any areas where skills would aid growth. We also encouraged businesses to prioritise their needs based on what skills are required to put growth plans into practice.
2. Make it last
One business wanted to know how to ensure training has a lasting impact. Try to pick courses where the skills can be easily cascaded and shared with the wider workforce. Use SMART, measurable objectives and try to use the opportunity to use the training to kickstart a continuing programme of skills development. Training and development should be seen as an important strand of business planning. Investments made should link to your business priorities.
3. Look at what’s missing
Deciding on the type of training was another topic discussed. We advised businesses to look at gaps that come up in staff appraisals and gather staff feedback to gauge what they need, then match this against your growth plans. Through the skills service we regularly work with businesses to look at their longer term training needs and help to turn this into a robust application for funding.
4. Use training to grow your business
Training your staff can enable you to delegate more effectively and free up more of your time to grow your business. Passing on day to day responsibilities to your team means you have time to drive your strategy forward, developing your staff and increasing the skills within your business as a whole.
5. Take advantage of the funding and support through the skills service!
We were asked a number of questions on the service itself. We talked about the more unusual courses we’ve supported including drone training and a Master of Wine qualification, as well as the highest value applications we’ve supported, including total training costs of over £80,000. We were also asked about support for sole traders, what courses we would recommend to improve marketing skills and the process for applying.
Applying for funding through the skills service is simple and straightforward. Grants of between £500 and £50,000 are available to eligible businesses to cover up to 50% of the training costs. Advisors such as myself are on hand to support with the application process and to work with businesses to create a robust application for training that will grow businesses. I’d urge businesses to find out if they’re eligible and apply for funding online or by contacting the team through firstname.lastname@example.org or 0113 386 1910.
Read the full TwitChat here: https://storify.com/LeedsCityRegion/leeds-city-region-skills-twitchat
*For more information on eligibility please click here.