Last updated: 13.12.13

Leeds SMEs to receive training boost

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Leeds City Region are set to receive help developing their businesses following the creation of a new initiative.The Response Project has been launched by several local organisations and is hoping to provide SMEs with the training support and advice they need to thrive, reports the Yorkshire Post.This will likely consist of guidance on recruiting apprentices, equipping existing employees with new skills and coaching and mentoring the entire workforce in various areas.According to Tom Keeney, chair of the strategic group set up to oversee the delivery of the project and regional director for Yorkshire and Humber for BT, this is the first scheme of its kind to arrive in Leeds.Speaking about the 99.5 per cent of firms in the city that employ less than 250 people, he said: "Improving their employees' skills will improve their businesses, create jobs and deliver growth and I urge every small business to get involved."While it is important for new starters at companies to receive adequate training, staff who have been employed for a matter of years would also benefit from learning and development, and it is this message that The Response Project is seeking to spread.Mr Keeney explained SMEs in particular struggle with having the confidence to invest in training, but it is essential that these companies recognise the value in developing employees and addressing skills gaps."[The project] aims to give small businesses a big boost by helping them invest in the skills of their workforce - which every business knows is the key to outperforming competitors."This is not the only support local Leeds firms can receive in improving their workplace education, as there are training providers in the area - such as Virtual College, based in Ilkley - that are happy to supply their resources.In the case of Virtual College, companies can use the organisation's online training modules, which cover a long list of essential workplace topics, to nurture the skills of their employees and offer them a flexible, engaging way of learning.