A £5.6m programme offering Lancashire companies free workforce training has been hailed a success after helping more than 5,500 Lancashire workers gain new skills and qualifications. Lancashire Skills Support for the Workforce (LSS) launched in September 2014 and aimed to help Lancashire companies accelerate business growth by addressing skills gaps.
It closed this autumn after delivering training to 5,508 staff from 1,381 businesses in the county, smashing the initial target to support 3,817 people. The programme’s ‘end of term report’ also shows that 202 people progressed from the initial training onto apprenticeships or higher-level training, further boosting their workplace skills.
It has been so popular that the Lancashire Skills Hub is working to secure European funding to deliver the next LSS programme, which it is hoped will commence early in the New Year. Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Lancashire Skills Support was our response to what businesses in the county were telling us was their greatest growth priority – upskilling the workforce.
The rapid pace at which the available training places filled up shows the extent of the demand for greater skills. “The programme would not have worked as well as it did without the local business knowledge we have in the county, and the quality of the colleges and training providers that helped us to deliver the training.
The phenomenal success of the programme means we’re eager to run it again as soon as possible and we hope to have a new funding bid in place in the near future.” Businesses qualifying for support through LSS, which was funded by money from the European Social Fund, received a free training needs analysis with eligible employees, followed by free accredited training from leading providers based on their skills requirements.
The support available through LSS included a mix of basic and higher level skills, leadership and management skills, as well as technical and industry specialist qualifications. Lancashire employers benefitted from workforce training in areas such as accounting, marketing, sales, health and social care, customer service, engineering, manufacturing, catering and hospitality.
The LSS delivery partnership included Accrington and Rossendale College, Age UK Lancashire, Blackburn College, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Burnley College, Joint Learning, Kaplan Financial, Lancashire Adult Learning, Lancaster and Morecambe College, Myerscough College, Nelson and Colne College, Preston's College, Runshaw College, West Lancashire College, and VIA Partnership.