£5.6m training plan helped 5,500 skill up

The team from Thornton-based Allan J Hargreaves

The team from Thornton-based Allan J Hargreaves

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A £5.6m programme offering Lancashire companies free workforce training has been hailed a success after helping more than 5,500 Lancashire workers gain new skills and qualifications.

Lancashire Skills Support for the Workforce (LSS) launched in September 2014 and aimed to help Lancashire companies accelerate business growth by addressing skills gaps.

It closed this autumn after delivering training to 5,508 staff from 1,381 businesses in the county, smashing the initial target to support 3,817 people.

The programme’s ‘end of term report’ also shows that 202 people progressed from the initial training onto apprenticeships or higher-level training, further boosting their skills.

The Lancashire Skills Hub is now working to win European funding repeat the LSS programme in the New Year. Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Lancashire Skills Support was our response to what businesses in the county were telling us was their greatest growth priority – upskilling the workforce.

“The rapid pace at which the available training places filled up shows the extent of the demand for greater skills.

“The programme would not have worked as well as it did without the local business knowledge we have in the county, and the quality of the colleges and training providers that helped us to deliver the training. The phenomenal success of the programme means we’re eager to run it again as soon as possible and we hope to have a new funding bid in place in the near future.”

Thornton-based engineering firm Allan J Hargreaves is one of many Fylde firms to invest in up-skilling its workforce thanks to Lancashire Skills Support.

The firm, which repairs and maintains construction plant machinery and lifting equipment, has was able to give 14 of its staff access to on-site engineering training to enable the safe operation and moving of equipment. The training was delivered by Myerscough College.

Allan Hargreaves, who owns the firm, said: “The training has allowed us to increase our efficiency and increase the number of team members who can safely move and operate various machines. The training received was perfect and conveniently delivered on site to our exact needs.”

Businesses qualifying LSS support, which was funded by money from the European Social Fund, had a free training needs analysis with eligible employees, followed by free accredited training based on their requirements.