A fully-funded programme designed to help Lancashire businesses expand their workforce and support people into employment has been extended until March 2019. The Lancashire Employment and Skills Executive Partnership (LESEP) secured £6.7million in November 2016 from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and European Social Fund (ESF) to deliver Access to Employment (AtoE) across Lancashire.
Preston’s College is the lead accountable body for AtoE on behalf of the Partnership. Over 2,200 unemployed or inactive adults have been supported through the AtoE programme to date, gaining more than 1,800 qualifications, with many progressing into employment following the support. The success of the programme has resulted in it being extended to the end of March 2019, with a further £1million of funding awarded to LESEP.
As well as supporting individuals into employment, AtoE provides businesses with access to ready and willing candidates to help support objectives and achieve growth. Businesses can work with LESEP to design bespoke, pre-employment training before they recruit to ensure it is tailored to their needs and that individuals are equipped with the relevant skills. Businesses including Chorley-based Matthews and Leigh Civil Engineering, Blackburn-based Cookson & Clegg and Accrington-based The Senator Group have expanded their workforces through the programme.
Steve Crook, sewing supervisor at The Senator Group, said: “The process benefits the learners by preparing them for employment in a realistic way, and the fact we can tailor the course to the needs of our business is hugely beneficial, for example teaching the importance of consistent sewing seams – so that those who go on to gain employment with the company are fully prepared. I would definitely recommend Access to Employment to other businesses.”
Rosie Fearn, operations director at LESEP, said: “The fact that funding for the programmes has been extended is testament to the success which has been achieved to date; creating a pipeline of talent and skills for the benefit of local businesses to enable them to expand and achieve growth, while generating opportunities for people to obtain employment. “We’d encourage businesses looking to grow their workforce or people who are looking for work to take advantage of Access to Employment before the funding comes to an end in March 2019.”