Ambitious skills programme launched to help create Bath’s post-Covid workforce

September 30, 2020

An £8m skills programme to help Bath  businesses plan and respond to their workforce needs – particularly those triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic – is being launched by the West of England Combined Authority.

Called Workforce for the Future, the free service will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) identify and address their skills needs by upskilling and retraining employees in areas such as digital or support them to find and bring in new staff, including apprentices or work placements. 

The programme – led by West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) – is the latest in a package of business support, skills and employment initiatives put in place by WECA to help kick-start the regional economy following the coronavirus outbreak.

Workforce for the Future will help businesses to:

  • Develop a more motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.
  • Increase digital skills and expertise, and foster innovation.
  • Capture the financial benefits of improved performance and elevated productivity.
  • Attract new talent, improve staff retention and develop future leaders.
  • Boost business resilience and flexibility to overcome future challenges.
  • Increase diversity and inclusivity in the workforce
  • Safeguard jobs and support employees through change.

The service is available to SMEs with fewer than 250 employees based in Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “Backing our businesses with the skills they need to emerge strongly from the pandemic and protecting and securing decent jobs is at the heart of my plan for our economic recovery.

“Our Workforce for the Future programme is a flagship part of that plan and will help us adapt and evolve to the changing world and seize the opportunities that digitalisation and new technology present, supporting our businesses and shaping our talent pool to meet the needs of tomorrow.”

WECA’s wider package of support available includes a redundancy support package, Future Bright training, and the government’s Kickstart programme.

It can be accessed through the regional Growth Hub, which has been expanded to help businesses through Covid-19. 

The project has received £4m of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.


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