Funding pot could help give Tees Valley SMEs’ growth plans a boost

Hundreds of small to medium-sized enterprises across the Tees Valley could be eligible for a share in a £7 million pot to help upskill their workforce.

But with employers often wrapped up in the day-to-day running of their business, many may be missing out on this bespoke opportunity.

Now, as part of the Skills Support for the Workforce’s network of training providers, Stockton Riverside College is urging businesses to consider their training needs.

Funding pot could help give Tees Valley SMEs’ growth plans a boost
Commercial Business Development Co-ordinator, Andrew McElwee

With a fund of almost £7 million available to SMEs in the Tees Valley alone, the college’s Commercial Business Development Co-ordinator, Andrew McElwee, said: “This is a fantastic chance for employers to access free training through the college for their staff, equipping them with the skills they need to grow their business.”

The Skills Support for the Workforce programme is a national initiative that aims to help SMEs across the UK to thrive by offering access to bespoke training to help plug skills gaps, raise productivity and ultimately grow the economy.

Funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the programme is being delivered in the region by Calderdale College, working alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships and a network of professional training providers, including Stockton Riverside College.

Andrew said: “We are excited to be able to play our part, along with the Tees Valley Combined Authority, in bringing this opportunity to business owners across the Tees Valley. This is a massive opportunity in that it is a chance to upskill the individual, to upskill the business and grow the economy.”

With a particular focus on advanced manufacturing and engineering, energy, digital, life sciences, business services, the service sectors, retail and construction, Andrew said: “SMEs from any sector can apply.”

Now keen to spread the word, he said: “If a small business owner, for example, is going to work every day and then going home to do the books and pay the bills, they can easily not be aware of the opportunities that are available to them.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Here in the Tees Valley we have a fantastic workforce with employees who are really keen to improve their skills and further their careers. This fund will give businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to provide the training needed to help them do this.

“I have always supported schemes that create jobs, encourage investment and support growth and I encourage businesses across the Tees Valley to take advantage of this pot of money which could really benefit them.

“There are well-paid, good quality jobs being created in the Tees Valley and I want them to be filled by local people equipped with the right skills.”

Ebrahim I Dockrat, Director of Commercial Services and Partnerships at Calderdale College, said: “By offering free training provided by specialists we can help our SMEs grow, which will boost our economy and deliver even more high-quality jobs that can be filled by local people.”

To find out more about the support available visit: or call 01642 777217.