LEP looks to hand out £14m in skills funding

Paul Rawlinson has used the funding to boost his staff's wine knowledge.

Paul Rawlinson has used the funding to boost his staff's wine knowledge.

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Over 150 businesses in Leeds City Region have benefited from funded training, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced.

More than £500,000 has now been awarded to businesses to invest in skills, enabling them to maximise their training budget and support their staff development.

The LEP’s recent business survey revealed that 74 per cent of businesses have identified skills gaps in their workforce.

One of more than 20 businesses to benefit from the support locally is Harrogate company Baltzersen’s, a Norwegian-inspired café that opens as a restaurant called Norse in the evenings.

It was awarded 50 per cent of the costs of putting some of its 30 staff members through several couses run by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

Owner Paul Rawlinson said: “I found out about the funding at a Harrogate Chamber of Commerce meeting. I applied and the funding came through within two to three weeks; it was really quick.

“The training formalised some of the learning we’ve done tasting wines in the restaurant. We all really enjoyed it and we came away with knowledge that puts us probably in the top one per cent of people in the country in terms of wine knowledge.”

Other beneficiaries have used the funding for leadership and management training, specialist IT courses, and foreign language lessons to help with exports.

LEP board chairman and skills lead Mark Ridgway OBE DL said: “With grants of between £500 and £50,000 available to businesses with a budget to put towards training, employers have the opportunity to work with a team of expert skills advisers, discuss their long-term growth plans and skills needs, and put together a robust training plan for their staff.”

The £13.9m funding is available to eligible SMEswithin Leeds City Region – which includes Wetherby and the whole Harrogate district – and is available until March 2017.

To find out more and apply for funding, go to www.the-lep.com/skillsservice or contact a skills adviser at skills@the-lep.com or 0113 386 1910.