A wave of enthusiasm for training and staff development has swept through the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly business community over the last twelve months thanks to the Skills Hub, an ambitious project part-funded by the EU.

Since launching on the business scene in October 2017 with the mission to boost the local economy by helping businesses grow through skills and training the Skills Hub, alongside its delivery partner Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, has rolled out a two-pronged approach to build awareness of the importance of skills and make a hard-hitting impact among businesses.

“Showcasing the dependence between continual professional development and long-term business sustainability is key to our wide-reaching awareness building campaign,” comments Josh Hoole, project manager of the Skills Hub. “While at a grass roots level, we’re working with businesses on a one-to-one basis to embed a culture of staff development and help them nurture their greatest asset – their people.”

Over 400 businesses have already been supported by the project, from small businesses with a handful of employees to established organisations with teams of up to 250.

Josh Hoole

“We’re a very hands-on project. We work side-by-side with businesses to help them identify their ambitions and the skills that they need to get there. We then explore the market to find the training that is right for them,” continues Josh. “Over the last year this has enabled us to build a detailed picture of the local skills profile and surprisingly, people planning is severely lacking. Typically, businesses have it so low down on the to-do list that they don’t explore it to its full potential. We help them escalate the importance of skills and inspire action.”

The service covers everything from sales and marketing to leadership and strategy and businesses from all sectors across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are eligible for the support available. Leading installer of solar PV panels, Naked Solar in Newquay, is just one of those that has benefited from the service: “Staff development is absolutely critical to keeping staff engaged,” comments Tony Sampson, MD. “Training improves productivity and when staff feel accomplished and know that they are making a valuable contribution it provides a massive confidence boost. The Skills Hub has been instrumental in helping us to give training the investment that it deserves.

Tony Sampson

“If I were to have researched all the training options myself it would have taken days, if not weeks. The Skills Hub quickly and expertly pointed me in the right direction, which was invaluable and reduced the time pressures that had previously caused training to fall by the wayside.”

Building on the success of the first year, the Skills Hub has a number of exciting projects in the pipeline, including a Cornwall Apprenticeship Campaign to drive awareness of apprenticeships as a training opportunity for existing members of staff. In the coming months a training fund to enable businesses on the Isles of Scilly access skills, training and work-based learning opportunities will also be launched, and the Skills Hub will work as a collaborative partner alongside a number of new sector skills delivery programmes.

To find out how the Skills Hub can help you nurture your team call 01209 708660 or visit, www.ciosskillshub.com. The service is independent, unbiased and free to access.

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Skills Hub is part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and match funded by Cornwall Council and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

Skills Hub in Action

Staff development is vital to any business but when you’ve grown by over 50% in just twelve months, it becomes even more important. When Made for Life Organics found itself in exactly that position, managing director, Amanda Winwood, turned to the Skills Hub for help developing the skills needed to cope with such incredible growth.

Made for Life Organics hand-blends beautiful 100% organic skincare from its base at the Health & Wellbeing Centre in Truro. With pure and natural being buzzwords for the ingredients used, the skincare is suitable for sensitive and sensitised skin. In fact, the products are so wholesome, they are suitable for people with cancer and as a result, alongside the company sits the Made for Life Foundation which provides holistic support for people diagnosed with and recovering from cancer.

Amanda Winwood

“Last year Made for Life Organics grew exponentially so we’ve needed to focus, regroup and consider what skills we are missing and what we need. The Skills Hub really kick-started things for us,” explains Amanda.

“In an initial two-hour meeting with Lisa, one of the Skills Connectors, we reflected on how the business had been going and our future aspirations. From this we were clearly able to identify that we needed additional support and training for at least two members of the team in Excel and negotiation skills. With the Skills Hub support, those courses have already been set up and agreed.

“We also identified that we need additional business administration assistance. Lisa suggested the recruitment of a business administration apprentice as a solution and we are now looking into the options.

“When you’re a business owner and juggling masses of stuff, the support provided by the Skills Hub has been really helpful,” Amanda continues. “We would have invested quite a bit of time in training but being able to instantly access courses that were readily available and suited our needs has been invaluable. Having an affiliation with the Skills Hub fast tracked us to get moving.”

Video Case Study: https://youtu.be/B5tfDLU0TO0

Video: How the Skills Hub can help your business https://youtu.be/XY2uYwi0bSI