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One Year On…

One year on and a multi-million European Social Fund (ESF) project led by the University of Sunderland is proving to be a vital component in investing in one of the regions greatest economic assets – its people.

Launched in September 2021, the North East Workforce Skills Programme is an ESF funded project worth nearly £15 million and is aimed at levelling up workforce skills to support over 17,500 employees across the Tyne and Wear and Northumberland area by September 2023.

The North East Workforce Skills Programme supports employers to access the tools they need to upskill their workforce through the consortium’s wide-ranging offer. Led by the University of Sunderland the consortium of Further and Higher Education providers in the North East includes Access Training Limited, MTC Training, Newcastle College Group, SETA, Code and TDR Training.

Tim Pain, Assistant Director, Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Sunderland said: The ESF North East Workforce Skills programme has just completed its 1st year and the programme has gone from strength to strength. We have engaged with more than 250 employers and supported 2000 individuals, due to the flexibility and collaboration of the partners we are really supporting businesses in the North East to upskill their employees and aid progression” 

Employers can utilise the ESF funding to address CPD requirements within their business up to a maximum of €200,000 over a three-year period if private sector, and with no limit if public sector. Levy paying employers have provided the Match Funding to support the ESF contract, this ensures that the programme can be accessed by all employers.


Consortium partners are offering a wide range of training from basic skills to Level 7 both accredited and non accredited. Courses include Business Support, Digital and Technology, Engineering, Leadership and Management, Education and Healthcare.

Employers who have benefitted from training so far have included Believe Housing, Biddick Academy, Draegar Safety Uk Ltd, Fulwell Medical Practice, Kasai UK Ltd , Seaward Electronics and Nexus to name but a few.

Phil Wood, Vice-President of Marelli who accessed the University of Sunderland’s Menopause in the Workplace course said “It would be difficult to overstate the effect that it has already had. It has been unbelievable. Menopause has instantly become a thing that people talk about in our workplace. We are now in the process of putting together a policy to dictate how we will deal with menopause – but rather than a management top-down approach we really want to get everyone involved and give everyone a voice to put it together.”

Chris Barton, Rebuyer accessed Teams training with Code said “ Staff are now using Teams as a method of contact rather than telephone, this has seen an increase in customer support we can offer. It has also improved the staff knowledge of Microsoft Teams and enabled them to take on more responsibility and be more involved with booking meetings etc.”

Miller UK Ltd have worked with Access Training to develop employees, Anne Jermy, HR Manager said We have accessed a range of courses, including Leading Teams & Managing Performance, which was delivered as a bespoke session to Miller and attended by most of our Team Leaders and middle managers. The day, and particularly the way Dan delivered the training, was such a success that we asked Access Training to deliver Team Leading/Supervisor Level 3 Apprenticeship and 10 employees have enrolled on this apprenticeship with Access Training, which has formed the basis for our internal management development program.”


Spartan UK accessed PLC Diagnostics and Fault Finding (Siemens),Introduction to Pneumatics & Hydraulics and 18th Edition Wiring Regs: C&G 2382-18 training with Seta.  Kim Mckie, HR Manager said          “As an Employer the additional training resources provided through the training have helped our team to develop new skills and stay up to date with the requirements and regulations relevant to our industry. We have received positive feedback from all of the employees, who attended the SETA courses.”                         

See the University of Sunderland courses
See what our partners offer