Employees from more than 200 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Lancashire have engaged in the University’s fully-funded online Leading Lancashire project with a notable rise in applications during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
Although anyone working in a Lancashire-based SME can apply for one of the professional programmes, the project has a clear focus on supporting the inclusion of women, disabled people and members of the BAME community to develop their leadership and management skills and knowledge.
Julie Strahan, Business Development Coordinator, said: “There is still much work to be done to reduce the balance at leadership level and ensure more diverse board representation.
“One of the project’s priorities is to recruit women already employed within SMEs to develop and equip them with the skills and knowledge to become productive and effective leaders and managers and help them achieve their career goals.
“We are delighted that so far 55% of candidates are women and we are confident we can increase that figure. We’re focused on encouraging more people with disabilities and the BAME community to take advantage of this fully-funded opportunity too.”
According to the government’s 2018 Longitudinal Small Business Survey, only 17% of SMEs were led by women; the government’s Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service for the same year states that 5.4% were led by non-white ethnic minorities; and the Labour Force Survey 2019 revealed that people with disabilities were over a third less likely to be employed than non-disabled people.
The Business School project, part-funded by the European Social Fund to help promote social inclusion, develop the skills of existing employees and embed new leadership and management capabilities in the region’s SMEs, delivers fully-funded professional Chartered Management Institute (CMI) leadership and management qualifications.
The courses are being offered during the summer with an exclusive Female Leaders Strategic Management and Leadership (Level 7) course starting in September.
Nicola Mason, HR Director at Napthens Solicitors, recommends the project to anyone looking to introduce or formalise a coaching and mentoring programme within their organisation.
“I started the CMI Level 5 Programme in order to help strengthen our employee offering around coaching and mentoring,” she said.
“Pitched at just the right level, I have found the course to be both informative, thought-provoking and useful in my role and reflections, and in helping to guide further changes in order to group and frame this concept within our wider structure.
“The tutor has been superb in both her professional knowledge and understanding, and in her personal support and approach to each individual attendee.”
Preferential access to funded places will be given to eligible participants from under-represented groups.
Visit Edge Hill University’s website for more information, to apply or to make an enquiry.