A major new skills programme is being launched by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to help businesses understand, plan and respond to their workforce needs, particularly as they face new pressures in light of Covid-19.
Workforce for the Future is a free service that will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to identify and address their skills needs, by upskilling and retraining employees, in areas such as digital, or support them to source and bring in new staff, including apprentices or work placements to drive their business forwards.
The programme – led by WECA and co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) – will help SMEs develop their workforce, looking at current and future needs.
Workforce for the Future is part of a package of measures that WECA has put in place to help kick-start the regional economy following the coronavirus outbreak. This includes a range of business support, skills and employment initiatives.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “Backing our businesses with the skills they need to emerge strongly from the pandemic and protecting and securing decent jobs is at the heart of my plan for our economic recovery. Our Workforce for the Future programme is a flagship part of that plan.
“Workforce for the future will help us adapt and evolve to the changing world and seize the opportunities that digitalisation and new technology present, supporting our businesses and shaping our talent pool to meet the needs of tomorrow.”
Workforce for the Future will help businesses to:
- Develop a more motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.
- Increase digital skills and expertise, and foster innovation.
- Capture the financial benefits of improved performance and elevated productivity.
- Attract new talent, improve staff retention and develop future leaders.
- Boost business resilience and flexibility to overcome future challenges.
- Increase diversity and inclusivity in the workforce
- Safeguard jobs and support employees through change.
The service is available to SMEs with less than 250 employees based in the West of England (Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire).
The wider package of support available through WECA, including a redundancy support package, Future Bright training, and the government’s Kickstart programme, can be accessed through the regional Growth Hub which has been expanded to help businesses through Covid-19.