Upskilling the Liverpool city region workforce is critical to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and now businesses can get access to free impartial advice and support on training. Tony McDonough reports
Businesses in the Liverpool city region are being urged to access a free and impartial service offering expert advice and sources of funding for training and apprenticeships.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has identified the upskilling of the local workforce as being critical to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As the economy changes and evolves, the demand for new skills will grow rapidly.
And free and impartial advice is available right now via the Liverpool City Region Skills Brokerage Service, part of Growth Platform, the city region’s growth company. This comprises an expert team of skills brokers who can save businesses, large and small, time and money.
In a study, the Open University found skills shortages were costing UK businesses £6.33bn a year in lost productivity. However, employers often find the training landscape confusing, believing the process to be time-consuming and costly.
It leads to many firms spending extra money on recruitment agencies, inflated salaries and temporary staff and training. Yet, with proper investment in training, employers can reap the rewards of a more productive workforce and higher revenues.
In consultation with businesses owners and managers, the brokers can swiftly identify the skills gaps in an organisation and direct them to the appropriate providers and sources of funding. Options may include apprenticeships, which are not just restricted to young people, or other forms of adult training.
All employers can access a minimum of 95% Government funding for apprenticeships. Apprenticeship Levy employers, those with a wage bill in excess of £3m, will look to reinvest this funding back into their business in the form of apprenticeship training. They can also transfer up to 25% of their levy to other employers. To date Skills Brokerage service in the Growth Platform has facilitated apprenticeship levy transfer of over £1.2m.
Other funding routes include Adult Skills under the Adult Education Budget. The Growth Platform can also assist employers looking to address specific skills gaps within their existing workforce through the Be More Brokerage project.
This service provides funding of up to 70% towards the cost of any training that is not already fundable through alternative public funding streams. This is an employer-led skills brokerage service and employers can register their interest in the project here. Individuals are not eligible for support unless they are registered as self-employed. The project is funded by the Strategic Investment Fund & European Social Fund.
The Skills Brokerage service also serves as a one-stop-shop where businesses can be directed to other areas of support, assistance and funding.
Joe Keegan, from the Skills Brokerage, said: “Training and apprenticeships can be transformational for any business or organisation. They can help you create a skilled and highly motivated workforce that can raise productivity and turbo-charge growth.
“However, business owners and managers often find the training landscape bewildering and confusing. They may get frequent calls from training providers offering programmes which may not particularly meet their skills needs. Our service is free and completely impartial and we work on behalf of business to find the right training for them.
“Liverpool city region’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic but it has also demonstrated its adaptability and resilience. By upskilling our local workforce we can emerge from this crisis with a fantastic springboard for future growth.
“We are seeing a big investment in areas such as green energy and decarbonisation, advanced manufacturing, digital and creative industries, logistics. Demand for skills in more traditional areas such as health and social care is also as strong as ever.
“We are also keen to reach out to all communities across the Liverpool City Region and we would particularly encourage entrepreneurs and managers in businesses led by women and people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds to get in touch. Every business in the city region, large and small, is critical to our future prosperity. Please come and speak to us.”