European Training Fund Launched by College Bosses

Principals from six Black Country colleges have joined forces to launch a major £5 million European fund designed to provide local businesses with free training over the next two years.

The substantial funding has been secured from the European Social Fund (ESF) and now six of the region's leading further education colleges have teamed up to deliver the Skill Up project to employers and employees. Those involved are the City of Wolverhampton College, Birmingham Metropolitan College, Dudley College, Halesowen College, Sandwell College and Walsall College.

Black Country college principals met on Friday 21st March at Sandwell College, and put their collective voices behind the multi-million pound initiative to highlight its huge benefit to local firms wanting to train their workforce.

Skill Up, which is available until July 15th, means small and medium employers will be supported with industry-specific courses and basic literacy and numeracy skills for their staff.

The free training is designed to help local businesses stretch their budgets further and give staff the training and qualifications they need. Employees aged 19 and over who are looking to enhance their skills in the workplace are also encouraged to get involved.

Short units of training are being offered in a wide range of areas such as Business Administration, Health & Social Care, Customer Service, Engineering, ICT, Manufacturing and Building Technologies. Offering training which is tailored to meet the specific needs of employers, and where possible delivered on site, means that Skill Up requires minimal time and effort to achieve maximum results.

Jatinder Sharma, Principal and Chief Executive at Walsall College, who are leading on the project, said: "This is a fantastic ESF project designed to bring real value to businesses right across the Black Country. We will come out to your place of business, talk about what training is needed, agree a programme of delivery and, wherever possible, deliver training onsite which means absolutely no disruption will be caused to businesses.

"Walsall College, along with our partner colleges, is committed to supporting employers and the local economy. The Skill Up initiative and the tailored training programmes we can provide will lead to a more motivated and productive regional workforce."

A range of grants are also available to employers, including incentives to recruit apprentices. For more information about Skill Up and employer grants, please contact your local Black Country college.