Businesses to benefit from £17.5m skills fund.

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Companies are being invited to apply for cash from a £17.5m skills fund.

The cash has been made available by the government for small and medium-sized businesses in the Leeds City Region to develop the skills of their workers.

The City Region is a collective of local authorities which includes Wakefield, Leeds and Bradford.

Mark Ridgway, managing director of Wakefield manufacturing firm Group Rhodes, helped secure the cash as a board member of the City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership.

Mr Ridgway said: “I want to encourage small and medium-sized businesses in our district to build their skills base and develop their workforce.

“We know we need to up-skill our young people in the district, and the skills fund can support the local authority’s plan.

“It is very important to have the right skills in place and to plan for success not just now but in the future, as businesses today operate in an exceptionally competitive market place.”

The funding will come from the government’s Employer Ownership Pilot and will pay for a new skills service for companies.

Grants of between £500 and £50,000 will be available to pay for existing training schemes or develop new skills training.

The grants are designed to act as an incentive up-skill workers as companies pay for around half of the new training.

Mr Ridgway added: “We hope the fund will be extremely attractive to companies looking to grow their operations.

“In business today, there are great opportunities to operate not just locally, or regionally but also nationally and internationally, but companies need to invest in their workforce to stay competitive and to be successful in the long term.”

For more information log on to www.the-lep.com/skillsservice