Skip to content

High Level Skills for SMEs

The High Level Skills programme offers dedicated support, advice and funding to help you up-skill your employees and access the wealth of graduate talent in the area.

ESF High Level Skills launch event

This support is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

The High Level Skills programme offers dedicated support, advice and funding to help you up-skill your employees and access the wealth of graduate talent in the area.

It is the only ESF-funded programme in D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire) dedicated to addressing high level skills needs in small or medium-sized businesses.

NTU work as part of the High Level Skills consortium to deliver this programme which also includes Derby College, Nottingham College, the University of Derby and Nottingham City Council.

This programme aims to help you grow as a business by creating a more diverse, creative and productive workforce through our two complementary projects, which outlined below.

From spring 2021, the High Level Skills programme will continue to support local businesses through two new ESF projects to develop leadership and management and STEM skills.

Our current projects

Priority Skills for D2N2 SMEs

NTU currently offer fully-funded course to employees of SMEs develop high level vocational skills:

  1. Effective Change Management is designed to help senior professionals, managers and leaders within SMEs that are currently going through change to design, implement and lead change effectively. It is relevant for businesses of five or more employees.
  2. Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership (SAIL) focuses on increasing climate literacy and sustainability in local SMEs, and how this is connected to COVID-19 recovery.
  3. Practical Marketing Skills is for business owners, managers and employees of SMEs to increase their marketing knowledge, promote their products and services, and grow their reputation.
  4. Women in Leadership is designed to help women in SMEs to develop their careers and their capability to manage and lead

Find out more about our courses.

GRADS for D2N2

The GRADS for D2N2 project provides SMEs with a complete package of free and subsidised support to help you benefit from graduate talent in the region.

Whether you're an SME looking to recruit local graduates, or you're keen to see how graduate and high-level skills could support your business in different ways, this project can help you access the support, advice and funding to plug skills gaps, achieve more, and grow your business. Our support includes:

  • Free organisational needs assessments and action plans to address your skills and talent needs
  • Employability support, advice and workshops to help recruit and retain quality staff
  • £1,000 talent grants to fund a graduate placement
  • Support to access higher and degree apprenticeships through advice, support and workshops
  • Putting your voice at the heart of the NTU curriculum through co-design

Find out more about GRADS for D2N2.

Who is eligible?

Most small and medium organisations in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are eligible for support.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined as:

  • Less than 250 employees
  • Annual turnover under EUR 50 million or;
  • Annual balance sheet less than EUR 43 million

Companies must be based in the D2N2 area to qualify for support. D2N2 is the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Contact us

Support is available to businesses until June 2021.

If you are interested in accessing these services or would like to know more, contact our team at

For more information, download the programme brochure.

Still need help?

High Level Skills Central Team
+44 (0)115 848 8899