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Serco marks UK Employability Day with relaunch of skills training programme

Published: 29 Jun 2018

SMEs are urged to take advantage of new £9m skills training pot, to upskill their workforce.

Serco today marks UK Employability Day by relaunching its Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW), programme developed to upskill employees of small and medium sized businesses, in a number of regions of the UK using a £9m training pot.

UK Employability Day is a day of celebration for organisations helping people to gain and progress in work. It is coordinated by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the representative body for those delivering or with an interest in employment support services.

Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business has been awarded a contract extension by the Education and Skills Funding Agency to continue delivering 14 SSW programmes and 1 Apprenticeship Services programme. As part of the SSW relaunch Serco will continue providing fully funded training, to help upskill the workforce of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) until March 2019, in:

  • Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Dorset
  • Swindon & Wiltshire
  • Gloucestershire
  • South East Midlands
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Worcestershire
  • Stoke and Staffordshire.
  • Heart of the South West (Devon and Somerset) - Apprenticeship Services

Since the programme began in September 2016, 18,347 learners from 4,119 businesses have taken advantage of the funded training available*.

Serco delivers these programmes on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to provide a range of courses such as IT, leadership and management training, as well as vocationally-relevant training targeting specific areas of improvement. The overall focus is to help support growth in priority areas like engineering and manufacturing, retail, creative industries and construction, helping to boost the wider, regional economy.

As part of the programmes, co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Serco has partnered with expert training providers to offer local businesses recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses aiming to enhance employees’ skills and increase the competitiveness of local businesses.

Businesses can select from a range of qualifications or mix and match individual units to support their work. The courses, which can take place at the employees’ workplace, range from a few hours’ training, to units of NVQ or other qualifications. Programme participants have benefited from increased employee confidence, motivation and productivity and businesses have reported improved employee loyalty and retention.

Commenting on UK Employability Day and the relaunch of SSW, Rob Matts, Serco’s Head of Skills Support for the Workforce, said: “UK Employability Day is a crucial day of recognition for the employment support sector and underlines the critical work of providers.

“It allows us to showcase our service offer and the hard work of our teams and delivery partners and, on that note, we are delighted that the Education and Skills Funding agency are trusting Serco to continue to support employees and small businesses through Skills Support for the Workforce. 

“This is a fully funded skills training programme which can empower and upskill the workforce of small businesses, promote social mobility, and futureproof participating businesses.

“Thousands of people have benefited from Skills Support for the Workforce already and I would urge businesses to make the most of the funding available before March 2019, so that they too can benefit from this investment in vital skills training.”

Businesses can contact [email protected] or visit for more details and to find out if they are eligible. For Heart of the South West (Devon and Somerset) Apprenticeship Services please contact [email protected] or 01752 968026.

* Figures correct as of 30 April 2018

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Case study 1: Goodfish

Goodfish are an injection moulding and tool making company based in Cannock. The company were interested in accessing training through Skills Support for the Workforce in order to empower their employees and prepare them for further growth. Working with PTP Training, one of Serco’s chosen training providers, they identified the need to upskill staff in IT, management and leadership, and customer service. Goodfish enrolled 20 of their team on over a dozen different courses including an ILM Management Course, Customer Service, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

Polly Kendrick – Operations Director at Goodfish said:

“I’ve heard lots of positive comments from staff members who have completed the training. They feel it has made them more confident in their job role and improved their performance. Some staff have already taken on additional responsibilities and one participant has been promoted to Quality Manager.

“We found the risk assessment training particularly beneficial and as a result of this training we have had discussions about how to improve our own forms and staff are now more proactive about risk assessment and identifying potential hazards.

“I would recommend other businesses to see if they can access fully funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce to empower and upskill their workforce.”

Case study 2: Celebration Crackers Ltd

Celebration Crackers Ltd is a progressively growing Dorset based Company, with a team of unrivalled cultural diversity, employing over 30 local people.  As a design led manufacturer, it produces high quality and bespoke Crackers which are sold both nationally and internationally.

Celebration Crackers Ltd received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through Best Training, one of Serco’s chosen training providers. They have received a wide range of training from personality profiling workshops delivered to the whole company at an away day to small group Excel training, Fire Marshall training and more recently leadership qualifications for eight heads of departments and directors.

Jo Neil, HR and Staff Development Manager - Celebration Crackers Ltd said, “The variety and scope of training we have been able to access through Skills Support for the Workforce has been fantastic. As a small (but growing) company we have been able to benefit from some targeted employee training and progression, which has also afforded us the opportunity to mix departments and cross develop our staff. The holistic approach to continue professional development has been widely appreciated across the business. On a personal level I have found the Leadership training to be invaluable.”

Case study 3: CDW Systems Ltd

CDW Systems Ltd, based in Gloucester is a manufacturer and supplier of aluminium windows and doors to trade companies across the UK. During management meetings in early 2017 they identified that one of their key objectives was to upskill Managers and Supervisors to work on a succession plan for their business. CDW Systems Ltd received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through Prospect Training Services, one of Serco’s chosen training providers.

Allan Little, Production Director of CDW Systems Ltd said: “Everything was very well organised from the start and we had a mixture of on and off site training so we could upskill our key staff with minimal disruption to production.

“Two staff members have been promoted since the training to more senior positions. Attending this bespoke management course allowed them to express themselves and gave them the confidence that they could move forward in their careers. The whole group has gained a great basic understanding of leadership and the key principles that support this.

“CDW Systems Ltd is a company that is progressing and moving forward and the Serco Skills Support for the Workforce fully funded training really resonated with that.”

Case study 4: Bright Secure Future

Bright Secure Future, based in Coventry, provides accommodation and support for young people between the ages of 16 to 25 years of age. Many of the people they assist are in the process of leaving the care system but are not yet ready to live independently within the community.

Bright Secure Future have benefited from fully funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce delivered by Groundwork, one of Serco’s training providers.

Stephanie Tatana, Managing Director at Bright Secure Future said: “We are committed to training and developing our workforce so we can provide high quality care and support for young people. We are pleased with the level of expertise and knowledge by Groundwork and staff are excited to put what they have learnt into practice and progress further. I would recommend any business looking to develop their workforce to see if they are eligible for fully funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce.”

Case study 5: Blue Flame

Blue Flame, founded in 1988, is one of the largest independent service, maintenance and installation heating companies in Cornwall.  They employ 108 people and provide gas, electric, oil, solid fuel, renewable and plumbing solutions and support for 12,000 customers across Cornwall.

The company received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through Cornwall College, one of Serco’s chosen training providers. Cornwall College helped Blue Flame to set out a bespoke training strategy with a particular emphasis on developing their management support team.

Paul Smith, Blue Flame’s Training Director, said: “For 30 years training has played an integral part in our business success. We view training as vital for the continued success of our team, which directly boosts the business as a whole. From apprentices to leadership team, we pride ourselves in developing our staff. It ensures that we are prepared for business challenges and puts us in a strong position for the future.

“Management and leadership training is an important component in ensuring we futureproof our business. This training was specifically aimed at the management support team to help them increase their knowledge to be able to support both their teams and liaise with senior management in driving the business forward.

“As a result the training has helped us to drive increased productivity, manage logistical planning and resource issues, manage supply and demand and drive better profits.”

Case study 6: Garston

Garston is a privately owned independent Veterinary Group, currently with five small animal surgeries, equine and large animal and farm units. All out of hours patients are cared for by Garston’s own staff and with a dedicated night nurse team.

The company received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through WISE Ability, one of Serco’s chosen training providers, in Customer Service and Team Leading. This was at a time of growth for the business, and several staff were new to their roles, thus they were keen to benefit from this learning programme.

Cathy Appleton, Human Resource Manager at Garston said: “All qualifications are a Level 2; to date all of our employees have achieved their qualifications in the following vocational areas with all delivery taking place in the workplace:

  • 10 employees have achieved an NVQ level 2 in Customer Service
  • 9 employees have achieved an NVQ Level 2 in Team Leading
  • 5 progressions onto a unit of Level 3 Business and Administration
  • 4 progressions onto a unit of Level 4 Management
  • 4 progressions in Employment.

“We continually assess our training requirements within the organisation; we can contact WISE Ability at any time if we want new staff to work towards a qualification.

“We have found the experience invaluable to support the continuing growth of the business and development and motivation of the staff. Several staff have gone on to achieve further progressions within higher units and are better able to face the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Case study 7: Wadys Electrical Ltd

Wadys Electrical Ltd is an electrical mechanical building services company established in 1959 and based in Bedfordshire. Their customers include a mixture of commercial, domestic, educational and health related businesses. The company wished to improve staff development and retention and needed employees to be up to date with current training needs and standards of the constructions industry. MD Doug Wady was keen to access the fully funded support available from Skills Support for the Workforce to help achieve that goal.

SR Partnership, one of Serco’s training providers in the area, worked with Mr Wady to complete a training needs analysis and as a result provided a wide variety of training courses that included non-regulated health and safety training within the construction industry, performance management appraisals, customer service and conflict, and risk assessment to name a few.

Attending the courses has enabled Chris May, Contract Manager at Wadys Electrical, to have a managerial insight into how and why things are done and also given him new ways to explore his role within management. He said: "The courses were informative and well run. I’ve learnt some new things and also re-enforced things I already know. I would definitely recommend SSW and the courses to others." 

Case study 8: Adopstar

Adopstar, based in Cullompton, is an advertising operations company with over 17 years’ experience in the online advertising industry. Adopstar are committed to supporting staff development as they see this as an integral part in growing the business, and have benefited from fully funded training through the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme. Education + Training Skills (ETS) is an OfSted Outstanding graded training provider working with Serco to deliver the programme.

The training Adopstar received from ETS was flexible and tailored to fit their business and included courses in Time Management & Prioritising, Excellent Customer Service and Telephone Techniques, Assertiveness and Building Personal Confidence, Managing Individual Performance and Minutes of Meetings.

Theresa Benson, Managing Director at Adopstar said: “We saw this as an opportunity to help further develop the customer service knowledge and skills of our vibrant workforce, through vocational based training solutions.

“My team all thoroughly enjoyed the courses and ETS were always on hand to help whenever needed. It was really nice that staff could choose which courses they felt would benefit them the most. They all worked extremely hard on the units and it was great to see them all pass.

“To access this fully funded training has been a great benefit to my company and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Case study 9: Housing Partners

Housing Partners are a thriving and growing business that develops software solutions for social housing provider organisations. As part of this growth the company have recently recruited more staff.

Housing Partners received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through Business Development Midlands Limited (BDM), one of Serco’s chosen training providers.

BDM worked closely with Housing Partners’ senior management team and helped them to set out a bespoke management training strategy with a particular emphasis on developing their team leaders who play a vital role in the company. Their core complement of team leaders have already completed a Level 2 unit focusing on skills of leading a team, developing a work team and effective team member skills - all made possible through the support of BDM and the SSW programme.

Dawn Churchley, Head of HR and Talent Development at Housing Partners said: “This initiative came at exactly the right time for us as we expand which puts an increasing emphasis on ensuring a robust team ethos with everybody pulling in the same direction. Our team leaders are a critical part of this process and following their training we are looking to progress them all onto a Level 3 course to enhance their team working skills even further. The process of undertaking a Training Needs Analysis with BDM was also a really valuable process and I would recommend this initiative to any business who need to develop their management capability.”

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