An £8.5m campaign is launched today to tackle a looming skills and labour shortage in Cumbria. Businesses must recruit 80,300 workers by 2021 to replace those retiring or leaving, and to fill newly-created jobs.
Forty per cent of these will need to be educated at Level 4 or above. At present, only 28 per cent of the county’s working-age population is qualified to this level.
Profiting Through Skills aims to help businesses train apprentices and upskill their existing workforce.
It is free to businesses employing fewer than 250 staff.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “With a shrinking working-age population and strong demand, recruiting talent from outside your business as and when required is no longer the easy option.
“Skills need to be developed from within a company’s existing workforce, which could include, for example, investing in apprenticeship schemes.”
To take advantage of Profiting Through Skills, businesses should call the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub on 0844 257 84 50.
A specialist adviser will carry out a review of their training needs to identify where improved skills could help.
They pass the assessment to an experienced training provider, or providers, who contacts the business to arrange training programmes funded through the scheme and elsewhere.
Profiting Through Skills is funded by the European Social Fund via the Skills Funding Agency and supported by Cumbria LEP.
Other partners in the project include Carlisle, Furness, Kendal and Lakes Colleges, the University of Cumbria, Newton Rigg, Gen2 and SP Training.
A marketing campaign to promote the service runs throughout September with radio, TV and bus advertising, social media and a brochure distributed to businesses and advisers.
There is also a Profiting Through Skills website, https://www.cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk/skills
Rob added: “The pot of money is £8.5m, so there’s plenty of funding available.
“Time is not on our side though. Businesses need to take advantage of the funding scheme before July 2018.
“We may never see skills funding at this level again, at least not from the EU, so employers should see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could transform and add significant value to their operations.”