IF has been selected by Birmingham City Council as a Strategic Training Partner in a new Supplier Skills Programme designed to upskill employees within Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the more developed areas of the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) region.

The three-year programme aims to transform management expertise, workforce capability and capacity, while providing essential tools to help SMEs sustain their performance and productivity. Overall, the programme will upskill up to 7,030 new and existing employees by providing full qualifications level 1-7, or equivalent (including higher level management and leadership skills), units or a unit of qualification at basic level.

The £12 million Supplier Skills Programme is part-funded by the European Social Fund and offer training grants of between £500 and £18,000, match funding per SME.

IF CEO, Paul Heard, said, “IF is proud to be selected as a skills provider under this new scheme. We have longstanding trusted relationships with both national and local government, resulting in us providing DWP-approved vocational courses for redundant workers, accessible through the Job Centre Plus Rapid Response Service, through to being a delivery partner for the government’s flagship automotive and aerospace supply chain support programmes. We’re in tune with the needs of SMEs in the West Midlands and look forward to making a difference to the local economy as businesses recover following the impact of COVID-19.”

In a press release, Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, said: “This programme is key to improving business confidence, raising skills levels and enabling SMEs to recover during this challenging economic period following the impact of COVID-19. The programme will allow businesses to develop a ladder of progression for existing employees by increasing their skill levels and creating new opportunities for other employees.

“The Supplier Skills Programme will reduce the skills gap by ensuring greater alignment between the training needs of employees within SMEs and training providers. Moreover, it will complement existing national and regional provision. This new initiative will enhance the City’s existing SME business support activities across the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership area.

Further information on the application process can be found on the Industry Forum website. The programme commences immediately. To be considered submit your completed application form before the closing date of 18 December 2020* 

IF joins Make UK, Creative Alliance, Kaplan Financial Services, Skills Training UK and Birmingham Adult Education Services (BAES) in helping to deliver the programme.

*SSP Funding Round 2 will open on 5 January 2021