10 July 2019

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Heart of the South West LEP area; Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay, are urged to take advantage of a £2,700,000 skills training fund to upskill their workforce.

The training is delivered as part of a programme called Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW), which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business is managing across Devon and Somerset. Under the 28-month programme which launched in April, Serco will work in partnership with Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to provide skills development that focuses on upskilling employees in key priority sectors as identified in the LEP’s strategic economic plan;

  • Advanced manufacturing and engineering (incorporating marine, nuclear and aerospace)
  • Agri-tech (including food and drink)
  • Health and social care
  • High value tourism
  • Digital technologies
  • Environmental futures
  • Construction

Through SSW, eligible businesses can benefit from funded training, tailored to their specific needs. Training is flexible and businesses can select full qualifications or mix and match individual units that are directly relevant to their work. Previous SSW programme participants have benefited from increased employee confidence, motivation and productivity and improved employee loyalty and retention.

Business participants will each benefit from a bespoke Training Needs Analysis that identifies requirements for upskilling or skills gaps in their workforce. Training for participant businesses could cover subjects such as IT and digital skills, leadership and management or more vocationally relevant courses.

The SSW programme in Devon and Somerset also offers support and training for individuals at risk of redundancy or those who have been made redundant within the last three months.

To deliver the programme, which is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Serco has partnered with expert training organisations to offer local businesses recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses, aiming to enhance employees’ skills and increase the competitiveness of the businesses.

Rob Matts, Head of Skills Support for the Workforce at Serco, said:

“I am delighted that Serco has been selected by the Education and Skills Funding Agency to manage the SSW programme in Devon and Somerset in partnership with the LEP. We have already supported more than 20,000 learners through our SSW delivery across England with more than 7000 businesses benefitting from this important service.

I would urge businesses or, individuals that may be facing redundancy, to get in touch with our team and take advantage of the funded training on offer. We look forward to enabling many more businesses to take advantage of SSW training to upskill their staff and grow their businesses.”

Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) said:

“The LEP is pleased to be partnering Serco to deliver this Skills Support for the Workforce in our area. We are regularly told by businesses that recruiting and retaining people with the right skills is essential to business growth and survival. This new training programme with £2.7m ESF funding to upskill their existing employees will be an extra boost to help local businesses raise their productivity.”

Contact the Growth Hub for further information about this funding offer. You can also visit the Skills Support for the Workforce website.


Serco also delivers this programme in the Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Derby & Derbyshire, Dorset, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Greater Cambridge & Greater Peterborough, Heart of the South West, Hertfordshire, Leicester & Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire, Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire, Swindon & Wiltshire, West of England and Worcestershire.

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