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New Skills Programme Helps Speed up Economic Bounce Back

LEP Accelerate News 7/7/2020 12:00:00 PM

Three key organisations have teamed up to plug skills gaps

Three key North West organisations have teamed up to plug skills gaps in the region’s businesses and help them emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient.

The Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub, The Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the University of Chester have launched a new £30m training programme, Accelerate, which re-skills and upskills individual staff. Partly funded by the European Social Fund, this is designed to support businesses to reskill and upskill their workforce.

The funding can be accessed by businesses and their employees who live or work in Cheshire and Warrington to undertake training across a wide range of subjects. This will enable businesses to develop their employees digital and technical skills and adopt new technologies and business processes.

  • Businesses employing more than 50 staff can access 40% funding to go towards the cost of training through Accelerate to retrain and upskill their workforce.
  • Employees of businesses with less than 50 people can access 100% funding towards the training available, which is made up of 40% funding from Accelerate and the remaining 60% from the LEP.

This training benefits both individual members of staff and ultimately provides their business with a more dedicated workforce.

Every business needs to be at the forefront of talent development to increase productivity and take advantage of new technologies and business practices to remain competitive. The Accelerate programme can offer a range of different training programmes to meet the needs of businesses as they adapt in response to the COVID-19 crisis. To help employees and businesses access the training available, the programme has two dedicated skills brokers, Mark Shepherd and Richard Coley, who are focused on helping businesses reach their goals.

The Accelerate programme can specifically support employees who are furloughed to undertake training programmes whilst they are on the government’s Job Retention Scheme, providing a critical backing for businesses at this time. The Cheshire and Warrington LEP is providing the match funding to employees of businesses with less than 50 employees, ensuring their employees can receive fully-funded support.

The University matches the training needs of individuals to those who can meet them in areas ranging from digital technology and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) areas through to occupational safety and health (NEBOSH and IOSH) to leadership and management.

Clare Hayward MBE DL, Chair of the Cheshire, and Warrington LEP said:

Cheshire and Warrington businesses have had to make some challenging decisions in response to the Covid-19 crisis, including furloughing employees, reimagining their business model or adapting their business practices. Accelerate has been launched to help businesses reskill and develop employees across the region, so that they are future ready, can maintain employee engagement and sharpen the company’s resilience and productivity.

We are also pleased to be able provide additional funding to ensure some employees who live or work in Cheshire and Warrington can receive fully funded training and we believe this will ensure businesses are able to continue to adapt and grow so together we can develop a better future.”

Prof Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, added:

“Universities are key drivers in reviving the economy as we weather the effects of the pandemic. Accelerate aims to have a transformative effect on the culture of ongoing learning and development across Cheshire and Warrington. As lead partner of Accelerate, it is very much the University’s priority to be agile enough to anticipate, innovate and equip people with the tools they need for the jobs of tomorrow. 

“Skills development is a vital component in increasing the level and range of skills across workers and young people, increasing the adoption rate of new technologies and opening up career opportunities, so that residents benefit and businesses and the economy thrive.”

You can find out more about Accelerate by contacting the Skills Brokers on –


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