Three organisations in Cheshire have coordinated to launch a new programme, Accelerate, aimed at plugging the region’s skills gap to support growth following the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub, Cheshire and Warrington LEP and the University of Chester have launched the £30 million Accelerate training programme, supporting businesses to re-skill and upskill staff members. The scheme has been partly funded by the European Social Fund, designed to support businesses to upskill their workforces.
Businesses and employees in Cheshire’s three local authorities, Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, and Warrington, can access funding to undertake training across a range of fields, including to develop digital and technical skills or adopt new 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.
The Accelerate programme is specifically designed to also support staff who are furloughed. The University of Chester will also provide support to match individual needs with training in STEM subjects, as well as health and safety and leadership qualifications.
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.”