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Nick Hill

£1m funding released to help Tees Valley SMEs close skills gap

Tees Valley SMEs are being urged to take advantage of free training in the region, as a further £1m of funding has been made available.

The fund, accessible through the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project and co-financed by the European Social Fund, will give SMEs the opportunity to offer their employees professional training across a range of skills and sectors.

Sue Dawson, regional development manager of the SSW project in Tees Valley, said: “The project has already made a significant impact in the region, having helped over 400 businesses and 1,000 employees gain new skills over the last 18 months.

“Securing an additional £1m funding means we will be able to extend that reach and support even more businesses, helping them to achieve their growth plans by offering them the opportunity to upskill employees through free training and improved productivity.”

The £1m of funding is an extension of the SSW programme, which has been running across the region for the 18 months.

Working with the Tees Valley Combined Authority to close the area’s skills gaps, SSW has courses in employability skills as well as specific courses across the Combined Authority’s priority sectors: advanced manufacturing/engineering, business and professional services, digital and creative, energy, culture and leisure, health and biologics, chemical processing, low carbon, and logistics.

Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher, Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Education, Employment and Skills, commented: “We know employers across our key sectors need problematic skills gaps to be filled so they can overcome the biggest barrier to business growth.

“Skills Support for the Workforce is a valuable resource to help inspire and support the region’s workers to learn the new talents that will help our companies succeed. By targeting our priority sectors, this programme is shoring up the fields that need it most and I welcome this extra funding to assist even more in-need businesses.”

The project is co-financed by the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency and is available for SMEs seeking non-compulsory work-based training to support their business growth plans.

The courses are delivered by a network of local training providers in partnership with Calderdale College, which oversees the delivery of the programme.

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