SMEs looking to upskill their workforce can use a £5.1m government-funded skills training pot to help grow their business in Swindon and Wiltshire.

Outsourcing firm Serco has had its contract extended to continue to deliver fully-funded training placements to SMEs across the region, hoping to boost engineering, manufacturing and retail sectors and the regional economy.

The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme, delivered alongside SWLEP (South West Enterprise Partnership) provides courses in IT, leadership and management training, as well as vocational training specific to certain industries, and NVQs.

Sally Brunett, skills lead at Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Continuous development of the workforce is vital for any business to succeed in today’s competitive markets and we are pleased Serco will continue to manage this programme.

“The fact that Skills Support for the Workforce is fully funded means businesses can benefit from expert support for their employees, without having to bear the associated cost, which I’m sure small businesses in particular will appreciate.”

Patheon, part of pharmaceutical manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific, trained more than thirty employees on courses ranging from business administration to team leadership, all of which were delivered by Wise Ability at their office in Swindon.

Samantha Romanek, senior HR Business Partner at Patheon, said: “We continually assess our employees’ need for training and we are able to refer new candidates at any time which has really helped with our staff development.

"There have been discussions regarding a Level 4 Management Apprenticeship as a progression for some of the team leaders who are currently working towards an NVQ level 2 in Team Leading."

The funding pot will be available to businesses to use until March 2019.