Multi-million project unveiled to upskill North East workforce

Employers across the region are set to benefit from a funding pot worth almost £15m that aims to boost the key skills of thousands of workers through education and training.

The North East Workforce Skills Programme is a European Social Fund (ESF) project, delivered by a consortium of Further and Higher Education providers in the North East, led by the University of Sunderland.

Worth £14,862,142, the programme aims to support more than 17,500 employees across the Tyne and Wear and Northumberland area, by September 2023, through highly tailored training and development solutions for businesses, from learning basic skills right up to degree level.

The programme promotes education, skills and lifelong learning that offers employers higher level Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as well as training solutions which support businesses to grow.

A special online event has been organised on Thursday, September 23, at 6pm for 30 minutes, offering businesses the chance to find out more about how North East Workforce Skills can help support them. To book click here.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Sunderland, recently shortlisted as University of the Year, in this year’s THE – Times Higher Education – annual awards, said: “Colleges and universities in the region are very well-placed to support businesses in their development and expansion plans.

“Investing in staff is a great way to achieve success and we can help in providing education and training in many specialisms and at different levels, depending on the skills’ needs of staff.”

Employers can access the ESF funding to address CPD requirements within their business up to a maximum of £200,000 over a three-year period if private sector, and with no limit if public sector. Businesses who are paying Apprenticeship Levy can claim funded additional training for their employees. Employers just need to pledge their Apprenticeship Levy as match to the North East Workforce Skills Programme.

Tim Pain, Assistant Director responsible for North East Workforce Skills, explained: “This is a major opportunity for employers to secure investment in the development of their staff.

“The consortium’s offer is wide-ranging, from college and university programmes to specialist providers, so there is something to suit everyone, and the funding’s there to make it happen. I would encourage any employer spending Apprenticeship Levy to get in touch.”

The consortium partners include: Access Training Limited, Code Academy, MTC Training, Newcastle College Group, SETA and TDR Training.

Joanne Phillips, Director of Lifelong Learning, Newcastle College, said: “I am delighted Newcastle College is part of the programme, we are passionate about what it stands for – offering employers training solutions that are right for their business.

“Our vision is to develop the skills and talents of people to succeed in modern enterprise and make a positive contribution to the prosperity of our region. Working with, and supporting, our local businesses and employers to develop a talented workforce is integral to that.

“We know that CPD is fundamental in improving overall performance, staff retention, mental health and wellbeing but it is also pivotal in supporting growth, securing new contracts, enabling succession planning and ultimately improving the overall success of an organisation. We offer a range of qualifications and training to support this but what is so great about this project is that it enables us to offer bespoke training to employers that really meets their specific needs.”

Code Academy owner, Simon Howatson, added: “We are delighted to be partners on the North East Workforce Skills programme. This first-of-a-kind opportunity enables employers to take advantage of up to £200,000 worth of funding to support building capability through Levy matched funding. As specialists in digital training, we are looking forward to unlocking the opportunity to drive business efficiency and effectiveness across organisations through digital training, alongside ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of their people.”

For more information about North East Workforce Skills, go to:


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