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High Level Skills for SMEs

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

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 are:

To find out more and for details on the offer from NTU and our partners, download our programme brochure.

Priority Skills for D2N2 SMEs

NTU currently offer three fully-funded course to employees of SMEs:

  • Women in Leadership is a three-day course which is designed to help women in SMEs to develop their careers and their capability to manage and lead
  • Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership (SAIL) is a three-day course focusing on increase climate literacy and sustainability in local SMEs, and how this is connected to COVID-19 recovery.
  • Practical Marketing Skills is a four-day course accredited at level 3 for business owners, managers and employees of SMEs to increase their marketing knowledge, promote their products and services, and grow their reputation.

Find out more about our courses.

Santa Brice, Creative Lead at The Treat Kitchen

GRADS for D2N2

The GRADS for D2N2 project provides small and medium-sized enterprises (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.

Case studies and news articles

High Level Skills programme – celebrating Black History Month 2020

1 October 2020

As part of NTU’s commitment to celebrating this, we have published some stories about the local Black-led businesses that the High Level Skills programme have worked with throughout the year.


High Level Skills programme – celebrating Black History Month 2020

1 October 2020

As part of NTU’s commitment to celebrating this, we have published some stories about the local Black-led businesses that the High Level Skills programme have worked with throughout the year.


ESF support for Black-Led Business

29 September 2020

As part of the programme delivery, we engage with a number of groups that are under-represented in business support programmes and this includes Black and BAME-led businesses.


Dates announced for new accredited short course to benefit local SMEs – Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership (SAIL)

10 September 2020

Following a pilot earlier this summer, Nottingham Business School is pleased to announce course dates for this new accredited short course from September 2020.


View all stories about the High Level Skills programme

Upcoming events and courses

COURSE: Practical Marketing Skills short course

Dates coming up in 2021

A course targeted at business owners, managers and employees of SMEs who want to increase their marketing knowledge, promote their products and services, and grow their reputation.

Find out more and express your interest in the course.


COURSE: Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership short course

Dates coming up in 2021

COVID-19 has thrown us into a state of disarray, adversely impacting our lives and the economy. As we emerge from this challenging time, we need to revisit the climate crisis – which is still one of the greatest challenges that will go on affecting all aspects of business and society unless we take action.

Find out more and express your interest in the course.

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 are interested in accessing these services or would like to know more, contact our team at esf@ntu.ac.uk.

For more information, download the programme brochure.

Still need help?

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