High Level Skills for SMEs

As an SME, are you experiencing skills shortages or skills gaps in your organisation?

Through the ESF High Level Skills programme you can receive dedicated support, advice and funding to upskill your employees and access the wealth of graduate talent that is available across D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire).

You will have the opportunity to build a unique relationship with us. This will give you access to specialist support, advice and funding to help you grow as a business and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce who are more creative and productive.

Nottingham Trent University is working with a consortium of local colleges and universities to deliver this ground-breaking programme, which is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). The consortium includes Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham College, Vision West Nottinghamshire College, Derby College, University of Derby and Nottingham City Council.

This is the first time universities and colleges in the region have worked together on such a large scale to develop employer-led learning and training in collaboration with local SMEs.

Projects

Through the programme, eligible SMEs will have access to the following projects:

  • Priority Skills for D2N2 SMEs

    Our Priority Skills for D2N2 SMEs offer provides small and medium-sized businesses working in priority sectors free bespoke training and career coaching for women keen to progress into senior, management and leadership roles.

    Women are needed in the workplace more than ever, especially as the UK moves towards full employment, Brexit and growth in the service sector. Our offer is designed to help you develop and empower women and their role in your organisation and sector.

    Why focus on women in leadership?

    Women play a huge role in business across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire but they are often paid less than their male counterparts and are more likely to miss out on career development opportunities due to factors such as part-time working to juggle responsibilities such as childcare and caring for relatives.

    This project is about enhancing equal access to lifelong learning for women in business, including a practical route to earning learning credits towards further qualifications.

    If you are an SME within the D2N2 area, we can help you to develop women in your organisation to become a effective leaders and the trailblazers of tomorrow.

    The course: Managing and leading people in organisations

    This is a 3-day management, innovation and leadership course for women in SMEs.

    The course gives women the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment, using real case studies and examples from your business and sector, with a focus on issues facing women in SMEs.

    We'll work with you, other SMEs and learners to co-design assignment tasks relevant to individuals and their workplace to make their learning relevant to your business.

    The course explores:

    • management and leadership issues and trends in organisations
    • effective leadership and management techniques
    • the role of leaders in developing high-performing teams
    • individual leadership qualities to engage and motivate every learner
    • the opportunity to apply learning to a real leadership challenge

    Many of those completing the course could receive 20 credits towards further qualifications, such as a postgraduate diploma or certificate.

    To make the course as inclusive as possible, it's run from 10am-4pm in accessible locations around the region.

    The course includes up to 3 hours of free career coaching for women keen to progress.

    Why is this relevant to your business?

    In the East Midlands, women are:

    • one-third of managers, directors and senior officials
    • 80% of the administrative or clerical workforce
    • 68% of the sales and customer service workforce
    • 80% of health and social care employees

    Through this project we want to enable more women to realise their potential by progressing into leadership roles and helping your business to flourish and grow.

    What are the rest of the consortium offering?

    The project consortium includes Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, Nottingham College, the University of Derby and Vision West Nottinghamshire College. In addition to NTU's offer described above, SMEs can access a range of support including:

  • GRADS for D2N2

    Our GRADS for D2N2 offer provides small and medium-sized businesses working in priority sectors 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.

    As an eligible SME, you can access a wide range of support to plug skills gaps, achieve more and grow your business.

    Skills and talent needs assessment

    After enrolling onto the project you can request a free, full review of your business' current organisational set-up. Using this, we can identify your future needs and goals to explore how graduate and high-level skills could boost your business productivity now and in the future.

    Skills and talent action plans

    We can help you develop an action plan to implement the findings of the skills and talent needs assessment.

    Talent grants and graduate placements

    Talent grants can be used to support work experience and placements that are meaningful for both you and our graduates.

    Higher and degree apprenticeships advice

    Grow your own apprentice by making them a key part of your organisation's development. You can work with our Apprenticeships team to understand how a higher or degree apprenticeship could be used to upskill existing employees and attract new talent.

    Co-designed sector workshops

    You can work with us to design and develop courses at NTU that mean we're teaching the things that are relevant to you as an employer.

    What are the rest of the consortium offering?

    The project consortium includes Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, Nottingham College, the University of Derby and Vision West Nottinghamshire College. Through the consortium, SMEs can access a range of support including:

    • Derby College – support to benefit from higher and degree apprenticeships and employer-led work experience placements
    • Nottingham College – employer-focused further education, employer-led work experience placements and support for SMEs to integrate students and graduates into the work environment
    • University of Derby – match funding to employ graduate interns and paid work experience placements at no cost to participating SMEs
    • Vision West Nottinghamshire College – training to prepare SMEs for sustainable staff development and support to benefit from higher and degree apprenticeships
    • Nottingham City Council – support to benefit from higher and degree apprenticeships through the award-winning Nottingham Jobs team and signposting to funding available

Latest news

NTU launch programme to boost high level skills across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire

On Monday 28 January 2019, a consortium of universities and colleges across D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire) launched the European Social Fund (ESF) High Level Skills programme to tackle high level skills shortages and skills gaps in the region.

Read more

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 2020. If you’re interested in accessing this support or would like to know more, please email

If you are interested in accessing these services or would like to know more, contact our team at esf@ntu.ac.uk or by calling +44 (0)115 848 8899.

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Still need help?

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