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What is Workforce for the Future?

Workforce for the Future provides free tailored, in-depth support to help you ensure your employees have the access to the skills, training and support that your business needs to thrive. You’ll receive free support from our expert partners to ensure your business can identify ongoing skills needs, attract and retain talented people, access the right training and development and invest in your current and future workforce.

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Workforce for the Future is free to join for businesses who:

  • have 250 employees or less
  • are based in the West of England region

Our expert partners will analyse and develop the skills of your employees, help you implement development plans to upskill or retrain your staff, and support you to bring in new talent. Support can be flexed to suit your business' needs, allowing you to start and pause support dependent on your requirements.

What does Workforce for the Future offer my business?

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Workforce development planning

Workforce for the Future will help you to create a workforce development plan to make sure your business is fit for the future. With the support of an experienced Skills Adviser, you will:

  • Develop and implement a Workforce Development Plan
  • Better understand your business' current, new and emerging skills needs
  • Identify relevant skills support, programmes or training options
  • Access a suite of online tools, resources and workshops.

Access to training and skills development

Workforce for the Future will support you to identify and implement staff training, such as increasing digital skills to meet changing business needs. Through the programme you will bring new skills to your business by:

  • Building your understanding of the training options for your staff
  • Accessing the right training & support to upskill or reskill your employees
  • Joining a support network to share and learn from best practice
Apprentice using machinery

Support with apprenticeships and work placements

Secure the right resource for your business - such as an apprentice, intern, or work placement. Workforce for the Future can help you:

  • Identify where an apprenticeship or placement could be created
  • Access financial support to fund the role
  • Prepare for the role and recruit the right candidate.
Graduation at Weston College

Education and skills pathways

Provide education and training providers with insight on the skills and knowledge SMEs need for the future. Engaging with education providers means your business can benefit from:

  • Influencing training programmes and curricula to develop future talent
  • Access to a pool of placement-ready students with ongoing support provided by their FE College placement teams
  • Engagement with potential future employees, building the profile of your business with the region’s school and college students
Catering students serving food

Talent retention

Consider the options available to you to help you meet business requirements, whilst:

  • Retaining and developing talent within your business
  • Safeguarding jobs and supporting your employees through any changes

We support business of all sizes, from all sectors

Delivered in partnership with:

Explore our partners' expertise

Bath College provides enhanced support for businesses. Further education colleges give you access to future talent and industry-specific training for your business. The college's training and funding experts will consult with your business and support you with access to apprenticeship programmes, student industry placements, funding workforce training and free recruitment support.

Bristol City Council's South Bristol Talent Pathway supports small local businesses in that area with easy access to HR and workforce development information, advice and resources to grow their workforce and develop their employee skills in order to meet future productivity challenges,  contribute to industrial estate improvements as well as help build a thriving local economy.

Business West can support you to deal with immediate skills needs – with guidance on upskilling current staff to keep pace with change; attracting and recruiting new staff to meet demand; and ensuring you are able to nurture and retain your people along the way. They can also offer support to align your future workforce with your growth plans.

Business West, along with Bespoke Consultancy & Education Ltd, Connecting Learning Ltd and Skills for Care offer a tailored support programme for the Adult Social Care sector. This project supports leaders and managers of care organisations to build, develop and sustain their workforce. With leadership at its core, you will get detailed engagement and a framework of professional development, resources and targeted support.


The Talent Accelerator initiative is a unique collaboration of the three West of England colleges to provide a region-wide solution to support SMEs in their future workforce planning and development, in identifying and sourcing the talent and skills training they need to innovate and prosper and to overcome any barriers to engaging with regional education providers.

Leonard Cheshire will increase capacity, knowledge and understanding of disability, supporting businesses to proactively employ disabled people more actively, confidently and successfully.

NCC's Digital Learning Factories programme will identify digital skills needs and give SMEs access to digital learning modules. The modules will be delivered in industrial scale, authentic, state of the art production environments at the National Composites Centre, the Bristol Robotics Lab and GKN’s Global Technology Centre.

WTPN's Apprenticeship Team is a specialist service harnessing the power a forty-strong consortium of local colleges, universities and specialist training providers. The service will revive business performance and productivity whilst creating new opportunities for residents.

Medium-level support will involve SMEs exploring their workforce and apprenticeship needs, gaining a clear understanding of the apprenticeship system, accessing independent 1-1 support and guidance on apprenticeships and being assigned a college or training provider through a managed handover to continue their apprenticeship journey.

High-level support will include one-to-one sessions, group workshops and bespoke support to help design and deliver workforce and apprenticeship development plans and apprentices starting within the business.

SMEs will receive a clear plan of how to engage with an FE college partner through the Talent Accelerator and receive dedicated support to mobilise that plan. SMEs will also have the opportunity to actively engage with the college partner in a number of ways, including guest lectures, live project briefs for learners to participate in, work experience and industry placements, apprenticeships and training for the SME’s staff. The colleges will draw upon their talent pool of learners to select suitable candidates for placement and employment roles, matching candidate skills to opportunities.

The West of England Combined Authority Careers Hub will help you attract future talent to your business and inspire young people. Your tailored Action Plan will support you in developing your talent pipeline, raising brand awareness and developing your staff's skills. This is also an opportunity to address diversity and inclusion challenges.

UWE's Digital Workforce for the Future Core Delivery Service engages with SMEs to enhance and improve digital skills provision across the region. Their service provides SMEs across all industry sectors with a deeper understanding of their digital skills needs and solutions for addressing them.

UWE also supports employers to recruit and develop talent from under-represented groups, and, connecting industry to talent from under-represented groups, developing processes for new talent to enter and thrive in the Creative Sector, bridging the gap from education to work.

Their Skills for Clean Growth programme co-delivered with NatWest also helps SMEs to address the skills needed to deliver the West of England’s net zero ambitions and vision for clean and inclusive growth.

YTKO's multi-faceted support focuses on supporting local construction SMEs who are at risk of being displaced due to the uptake and acceleration of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and offsite solutions.

European Social Fund

The project has received £4m of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.

Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations.