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Workforce for the Future

Workforce for the Future is a free support service for businesses and individuals in the West of England. The £8m programme helps businesses develop employees' skills, understand how they can meet their current and future skills needs and attract, develop and retain talented people. It also supports local residents to upskill and improve their career prospects. The West of England Combined Authority and the European Social Fund (ESF) co-fund Workforce for the Future.

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SMEs can find out more about the benefits of Workforce for the Future and sign up by visiting our dedicated business support service, the West of England Growth Hub.

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We operate a funding call process for Workforce for the Future to allocate funding to providers and projects which provide skills support to SMEs.

Workforce skills support

Who can take part?

The programme is open to anyone and not only West of England residents. However, we would strongly encourage the following groups to participate:

  • people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds
  • those seeking training in industries where their gender is under-represented, e.g. women in the construction industry and men in care roles
  • those who have special educational needs
  • people who are looking to re-skill
  • people who are returning to work after a career break
  • people without qualifications or who work in low-skilled roles
  • care leavers or young people who are not in education, training or employment

The Workforce for the Future programme will operate until autumn 2023 under Investment Priority 2.2 of the European Social Fund Operating Programme. Definitions can be downloaded here.

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. For more information visit

For business

Our programme helps small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) understand, navigate and benefit from our region’s skills system. We connect businesses to the future workforce through apprenticeships, internships and placements. We also encourage them to consider how they can develop the skills of current employees to achieve business goals.



Our partners

We work with a range of expert partners who deliver the programme on behalf of the Combined Authority. Our partners have specialist skills and businesses can work with one or more of them, according to their needs.

For residents

Workforce for the Future helps our residents to upskill or reskill. Our services are suitable for people at any stage of their career – from those already in employment, to learners in schools and colleges or apprentices.

The programme offers many benefits, including:

  • acquiring skills that could lead to higher earnings
  • increasing opportunities for the employed to benefit from professional development and/or learning opportunities
  • providing more opportunities for residents who are already upskilling or training to gain work ‘placements’ such as internships, graduate placements and apprenticeships
  • increasing the opportunities to carry out learning and/or training in an area that’s a priority for local businesses
  • providing the opportunities to consider a career change or return to work in a different sector

Delivered in partnership with: