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Businesses offered skills support as lockdown eases

Businesses in the region are being offered a free skills planning service to help them take the next steps to a successful future.

The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges has just launched a campaign to raise awareness of the service that enables business leaders to take a breath, analyse the skills needs within the business and create a plan.

The #AnalyseAndThrive campaign promotes Skills Plans. These are one to one sessions with an impartial skills associate or advisor. Together they assess the workforce’s skills and help identify what is needed to progress.

As part of the ‘Let’s Talk Real Skills’ project that is funded by the European Social Fund, businesses based in the Leeds City Region* are entitled to the free session. Businesses can benefit from access to funding for training or opportunities to test out new training programmes and links to other regional services.

After a very unsettled year for the business community, a Skills Plan allows a business to take stock and reconnect to the support that is available, with no commitment needed.

Many businesses in the Leeds City Region have already taken advantage of the service.

Jack Sutcliffe is a Director and Co-Founder of Power Sheds Ltd in Bradford. The firm has grown from 0 to 85 members of staff in just two years.

Jack said, “We have a large number of staff and very few team leaders. Creating a Skills Plan was vital to us as it meant we could develop our team into becoming leaders, allowing us to confidently provide them with additional responsibilities. Development of our staff is key to our long term strategy. We believe this will help us build the foundation of a great culture and encourage our team to be a huge part of this journey.”

Global software solution firm Xalient has a base in Leeds. Annie Davies, Xalient’s Strategic People Advisor said, “Taking the time to work through a Skills Plan really helped us to clarify the business training and coaching priorities, at every level and across all professional disciplines”.

“Now, every employee has an individual Development Plan that provides a career roadmap, which can be facilitated through our growing business. The funding we have been able to access through working with WYCC has enabled us to speed up the roll out of training programmes, sooner than we would have done otherwise”.

“A very high percentage of senior and management appointments are made internally, which means we look to promote from within, benefiting from the investment in our teams and retaining the skills. Our ethos in employee development has also contributed to our reputation as a good employer. We won ‘Company of the Year’ in the International Business Awards last year, where ‘investing in our people’ was noted as one of the standout factors.”

Emily Shorrock is Group HR Director at the Harrogate base of Techbuyer, a global IT refurbishment company. 

“We are an entrepreneurial business and believe that every member of staff deserves the chance to benefit from professional and personal development. This culture keeps our teams motivated and prevents the business from stagnating. Here in Yorkshire, we have been able to access 40% funding towards training through the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC). This is a huge saving and has allowed us to do even more with our budget. 

“Having a culture of training and development means we can promote from within the company and maintain a low turnover of staff. 

 “Despite the pandemic, the nature of our business has allowed us to grow. We have recruited 80 new staff across the globe in the last year. Our culture has been the key to successfully adapting to new ways of working and attracting new employees into the business. 

“Working with an organisation like WYCC can certainly help a business to capitalise on the opportunities available and support a staff development culture that is needed to grow.”  

To book a free Skills Plan with WYCC go to

Alternatively, businesses can book a Skills Plan with one of the Let’s Talk Real Skills project partners. These are Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Shipley and Wakefield Colleges, Leeds College of Building, Luminate Education Group, Go Higher West Yorkshire and the Textile Centre of Excellence.As part of the #AnalyseAndThrive campaign, the latest WYCC dinosaur animation has also been released on Youtube promoting Skills Plans as a way of boosting productivity through staff training.

The intelligence gathered from the Skills Plans carried out in the region will also influence future training provision. As part of the wider project, the £7million Let’s Talk Real Skills project is funding several pilot training programmes in 10 key sectors. The project is growing new partnerships between employers, industry bodies and education to help meet the region’s skills gaps, called Collaborative Skills Partnerships. Find our more at

*Leeds City Region includes the following districts Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield or York.