‘Super easy’ skills from £17m bank

Peter Norriss of PwC
Peter Norriss of PwC

Bosses are being urged to apply for a new £17m training fund which aims to bridge the productivity gap and boost the region’s prosperity.

The Skills Bank aims to be a one-stop-shop that removes almost every barrier to sending staff on courses to help companies grow.

It will also pay up to 70 per cent of the costs, the hope is that more successful firms will pay more taxes and employ more people locally.

The Skills Bank is a project of Sheffield City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership which has negotiated a £1.3bn devolution deal.

Accountants PwC, based in Sheffield city centre, won the contract to run it until 2018.

Peter Norriss, Skills Bank project manager, said bosses were in the driving seat. They could ask for a visit to their premises or sign up on the phone or internet. Some 43 training providers had been approved, but if a course was unavailable they’d go outside the region to source it, or develop a new one.

He said: “Any business has the potential to grow, we will fund skills where we can help people with that mission - we want to make it super easy for employers.

“The big difference in what has gone before, is that we are not taking a product to market, we are a service where the companies themselves decide what they want.

“We never want to turn someone away without an answer, our message is that we have the funding and support and we do the red tape.”

Applications took typically an hour, with a decision in about two weeks and a 75 per cent success rate, he added.

As part of the devolution deal with government, Local Enterprise Partnership bosses argued a locally-run scheme would be more efficient than those run nationally.

It has a target of creating 70,000 new private sector jobs in the 10 years.