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Manufacturing workers among thousands with new skills through Skills for Growth

Greater Manchester’s Skills for Growth, which was launched to address skills gaps identified by employers in the city region, has now supported 20,000 individuals to gain new skills.

Made possible through the European Social Fund and launched during the pandemic, the £42 million Skills for Growth programme forged partnerships with businesses and training providers to create new learning opportunities for residents to upskill and reskill. 

Examples in the manufacturing sector include Snuggledown, a pillow, mattress topper and duvet manufacturer in Wigan, which accessed fully-funded training on lean manufacturing techniques for a staff member. 

Production Change Manager, Tony Bravander, commented: 

“To access fully-funded training is a godsend. I know not a lot of manufacturing businesses have a large training budget, so this programme has definitely gone a long way to helping us support our employees.  

“Not only will our collective learning help us to increase productivity, improve machine reliability and build on our health and safety procedures but it demonstrates a commitment to staff, therefore encouraging retention and ensures our employees remain engaged with the company.” 

The Flava People, a food manufacturer in Wythenshawe, supported its senior development technologist, Laura Madden, to access an 18-month level 3 digital marketing apprenticeship to help her diversify her role. Commenting on her experience, she said: 

“I’ve always been interested in digital marketing so I couldn’t wait to explore it as part of the day job. Traditionally, my role stops once the product is created, so my new learning will help me to deliver a much more rounded package to my clients.” 

The Flava People benefitted from expert support from Skills for Growth – SME Support, a consultation service delivered by The Growth Company to help SMEs identify and fill their skills needs. So far, 3,800 SMEs have been supported by the service. 

Scott Dixon, Managing Director of The Flava People, said: 

“Skills for Growth – SME Support helped us to identify our gaps and it was clear there was real need for digital marketing. It’s fantastic that this has led to Lauren learning a new skill, which will not only support our business but will help Lauren to bolster her offer to our clients. 

“Some small businesses are afraid to upskill their staff in case they decide to leave but I’m a firm believer in the opposite. If you show your employees that they’re valued, they are more likely to stay and grow with you as a business.” 

GC Business Growth Hub was part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2014-2021, as part of a portfolio of ERDF-funded programmes designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. Eligibility criteria was applied. The 2014-2021 ERDF  fund was allocated by the European Union that finances convergence, regional competitiveness and employment and territorial co-operation.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government was the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which was one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information, visit European Regional Development Fund: Documents and Guidance - GOV.UK (

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