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Skills for Business

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Skills for Business

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Skills for Business

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Skills for Business

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Skills for Business

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Skills for Business

Skills in Business

The Growing People Skills Plan is driven by meeting employer needs. This page provides details on different skills pathways individuals and businesses can consider in developing their workforce, what skills funding is available to assist and, how to businesses can engage best with education providers to build a talent pipeline of people with the skills and attributes needed to meet the needs of businesses in the South East Midlands.

Skills Pathways

Apprenticeships can develop the skills and train people in almost all business types and sectors, at all levels; from Intermediate to Masters; for all ages from 16; for both new recruits and existing employees.

In 2016/17, over 16,000 people across the South East Midlands area participated in apprenticeships. Evidence from the National Apprenticeship Service, show the benefits to businesses to be:

  • Apprentices boost productivity on average by £214 per week
  • 87% of employers were satisfied with their apprenticeship programme
  • 75% businesses reported an improvement in the quality of their product or service by having an apprentice

In May 2017, the Government changed apprenticeship funding. An Apprenticeship Levy is applied to all UK employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m. If this applies to your business, estimate your apprenticeship funding.

Support for Larger Business Support Levy payers:

We can also put you in touch with local businesses considered to be best practice in using the levy.

National Apprenticeship Service
Support line 0800 0150 600

A quick overview on employing an apprentice can be found at

More detailed guidance can be found at

Support for Small and Medium Business Support (non-levy payers).

SEMLEP's Growth Hub has a team of Business Advisers who can provide free guidance to SME employers interested in taking on an apprentice. 

SMEs can also register with Apprentice Makers to see case studies and connect with other businesses to learn from their experiences:

We can also put you in touch with Apprentice Ambassadors from businesses who can talk to you about their experiences and best practice.

SEMLEP's Apprenticeship Guide

Our Further Education colleges provide a significant proportion of the local skills education and training for the South East Midlands.

Investment in facilities such as engineering centres, digital academies and food and drink innovation centres ensure that the vocational provision is aligned with employer needs. Our colleges already support the training needs of around 6,000 companies from micro-businesses right through to the larger regional organisations.

The new technical pathways of T-Levels alongside the apprenticeships, will offer opportunities for businesses to work with the colleges both within curriculum and work experience. Contact us for explore ways of working with the colleges within the South East Midlands.

Contact our Colleges directly:

Aylesbury Campus (Buckinghamshire College Group):
Banbury and Bicester College:
Barnfield College:
Bedford College:
Central Bedfordshire College:
Luton Sixth Form College:
Milton Keynes College:
Moulton College:
Northampton College:
Tresham College:

Collectively, the South East Midlands Universities make a major contribution to the national and local economies through their higher education, innovation and research activities.

The seven universities across the South East Midlands have formed a SEMU group, working together to support business and jobs growth in key sectors, including aerospace, automotive engineering, bioscience, defence and security, digital, energy, environment and manufacturing sectors, creative arts and logistics. This includes Higher, Degree and Masters level apprenticeships.

Our universities include The Open University, the UK’s largest university; Cranfield University, a leader in post graduate education; The University of Buckingham, the only university independent of direct government support in the UK.

Members of the SEMU group are:

Cranfield University:
The Open University:
University of Bedfordshire:
The University of Buckingham:
University of Northampton:
Buckinghamshire New University:
University Campus Milton Keynes (UCMK):

Contact us for introductions to the SEMU members.

There are a variety of other training providers including private businesses, third sector organisations, agencies such as Job Centre Plus and local authority adult provision.

Local Authority Adult Education and Community Learning

Aylesbury Vale:
Bedford and Central Bedfordshire:
Milton Keynes:

Jobcentre Plus
Jobcentre Plus is a government-funded employment agency, whose aim is to help people of working age find employment in the UK, providing resources to enable job-searchers to find work and administer claims for benefits. The local office closest to you can be found at

European Social Fund (ESF) Funded Training Provision
The SEMLEP ESF programme focuses support on people who are unemployed or economically inactive; young people aged 15-24 who are not in education, employment or training and people who are socially excluded. In addition, the fund can support people in work through investing in basic, intermediate and higher level and technical skills to help employees progress in work and help drive growth in their organisations by improving productivity.

Current ESF funded providers can be found in a directory.

Funding for Skills

Projects funded through the European Structural Investment Fund support businesses and individuals to develop skills and encourage progression into or within work.

Read More

Building a talent pipeline

Business engagement with young people and school or college staff is core to the support SEMLEP provides to schools and FE Colleges.

Employers say that they want to support schools and colleges and, through the SEMLEP Growing People Skills Plan activity, we will provide conduits for relevant, efficient, effective employer engagement both for businesses and educators.

Employers can make a difference through engagement by:

  • Becoming inspirers, working with and motivating people through 5 types of focused, relevant provision; inspirational talks, work site visits for small cohorts, mentoring individuals, enterprise activities and work experience
  • Acting as Enterprise Advisers, assisting with driving employer engagement in schools
  • Facilitating relevant provision for young people through hosting and/or funding activity, contributing to both CSR and CPD of staff
  • Informing for provision content, attainment types and labour market information

For more information as to how you can make a difference contact SEMLEP’s Skills and Employer Manager, Paul Thompson on or 01234 436100.

Support for employers on education and skills

Information for employers on work-based education programmes, including information on apprenticeships, T Levels and traineeships.

Read More

Strengthening the Workforce

With the challenges facing some organisations in filling vacancies, taking a fresh look at accessing talent through open recruitment can have a positive impact on business and provide some of the most motivated staff.

Evidence from business suggests that people who have overcome their own personal challenges can bring fresh ideas and solutions to problems with employees focused on securing results, staying with their employer for longer, having a strong commitment to their organisation and lower rates of absenteeism. They also report several key benefits to the business including:

  • addressing skills shortages
  • reducing recruitment costs
  • improving client relationships by embracing diversity
  • up-skilling the existing workforce through coaching and mentoring
  • demonstrating a social conscience and improving morale
  • boosting the reputation of the organisation

For some guidance and resources to help move towards open recruitment, please click here.

Read the Viridian Nutrition employer training case study.

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