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16 July 2018

Dorset businesses to benefit from £4.5m skills training pot

Dorset businesses to benefit from £4.5m skills training pot

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Dorset are urged to take advantage of a £4.5m skills training pot for their workforce, as a result of a contract extension.

The training is delivered as part of a programme called Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW), which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business is managing across Dorset. Since the programme launched in September 2016, 2,227 learners from 759 businesses across Dorset have taken advantage of the funded training available*. Serco has just been awarded a contract extension to continue delivering the programme until March 2019, at which point the funding will come to an end.

Serco provides a range of courses to the following sectors, which have been identified as key priority sectors by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP):
Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing (Aerospace, Defence & Marine technologies)

  • Agri-tech, Food & Drink
  • Creative Industries (Silicon South)
  • Environmental Goods & Services
  • Financial Services
  • Accommodation & Food Services
  • Manufacturing
  • Public Administration, Education & Health
  • Wholesale, Retail, Motor Trades

Businesses operating in these sectors can access funding for training courses such as IT, leadership and management, as well as vocationally-relevant training (depending on the sector).
To deliver the programme, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Serco has partnered with expert training organisations to offer local businesses recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses aiming to enhance employees’ skills and increase the competitiveness of the businesses.

Businesses can select from a range of qualifications or mix and match individual units to support their work. The courses, which can take place at the employees’ workplace, range from a few hours’ training, to units of NVQ or other qualifications. Programme participants have benefited from increased employee confidence, motivation and productivity and businesses have reported improved employee loyalty and retention.

Commenting on the contract extension, Rob Matts, Serco’s Head of Skills Support for the Workforce, said: “We are delighted that the Education and Skills Funding agency are trusting Serco to continue making a positive impact to local communities in Dorset. Skills Support for the Workforce is a brilliant skills training programme which small businesses in Dorset can take advantage of at no cost to them. Thousands of people have benefited from this Serco Business programme already and I would urge businesses to make the most of the funding available before March 2019, so that they too can benefit from this investment in vital skills training”.

Lorna Carver, Director at Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "Investing in your people raises productivity and improves the customer experience. I strongly encourage SMEs in our key sectors to take advantage of this training opportunity."

Businesses can contact Serco on or visit for more details and to find out if they are eligible for funded training through Skills Support for the Workforce.

More details for businesses in Dorset here.

Serco also delivers this programme in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Swindon & Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, South East Midlands, Coventry and Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Stoke and Staffordshire. In Devon and Somerset Serco delivers Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service.
*Figures correct as of 30 April 2018

Case study

Celebration Crackers Ltd is a progressively growing Dorset based Company, with a team of unrivalled cultural diversity, employing over 30 local people. As a design led manufacturer, it produces high quality and bespoke Crackers which are sold both nationally and internationally.

Celebration Crackers Ltd received fully funded training from Skills Support for the Workforce through Best Training, one of Serco’s chosen training providers. They have received a wide range of training from personality profiling workshops delivered to the whole company at an away day to small group Excel training, Fire Marshall training and more recently leadership qualifications for eight heads of departments and directors.

Jo Neil, HR and Staff Development Manager - Celebration Crackers Ltd said, “The variety and scope of training we have been able to access through Skills Support for the Workforce has been fantastic. As a small (but growing) company we have been able to benefit from some targeted employee training and progression, which has also afforded us the opportunity to mix departments and cross develop our staff. The holistic approach to continue professional development has been widely appreciated across the business. On a personal level I have found the Leadership training to be invaluable.”

About Serco

 is a leading provider of public services. Our customers are governments or others operating in the public sector. We gain scale, expertise and diversification by operating internationally across five sectors and four geographies: Defence, Justice & Immigration, Transport, Health and Citizen Services, delivered in UK & Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. More information can be found at

European Social Fund

The project value is up to £4.5m. It is co-financed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England ESF programme. Established by the European Union ESF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, skills development, job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit



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