A £32 million skills investment programme has been launched in Liverpool City Region, offering local skills initiatives grants of between £1,000 and £1 million to improve the area's workforce.
The Skills for Growth Bank - which is being backed by the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) - is helping businesses to decide what skills their workers and apprentices need as well as to buy relevant training materials.
Companies can register online on the Skills for Growth Bank's website and once this is done, they will be sent a full grant application form before being supported through the process of building their own training programme.
Chair of the LEP Robert Hough spoke about the scheme after an inaugural board meeting was held last week. He said that by working together with local councils, those involved in the initiative have been able to convince the government that local firms are ready, willing and able to step up to the plate and deliver skills for growth.
"We now have a short window until next July to make £20 million worth of investments alongside local businesses and create new types of apprenticeships and up-skill our workforce," he added.
Mr Hough advised Liverpool organisations to look long and hard at where in their business the funding can be used to train employees to have the skills they need to make the company grow.
The original proposal for the skills investment was made by Asif Hamid, an entrepreneur from Birkenhead who is chief executive of The Contact Company.
He claimed the LEP has big plans for the Skills for Growth Bank, which is the first of its kind and is committed to making businesses the "true customer of public investment in skills". According to Mr Hamid, those involved are also working on launching an online training comparison website.
This comes after a recent report from Lloyds TSB Commercial Banking revealed that the north-west of the UK could be seriously impacted by the skills gap among small and medium-sized businesses in the region.