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Free skills health check and seminars for small to medium size businesses

Monday October 20, 2014 – Leading Suffolk social enterprise Realise Futures has been selected to help 50 small to medium size enterprises (SMEs), across the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership region, plan staff development and future growth and to identify their skills gaps. 

Realise Futures Learning and Development division - which provides bespoke training courses to businesses - will set up and run six, day-long seminars during November, December and January which will be free to SMEs across Suffolk and Norfolk.

These will be followed by six workshops run by Realise Futures next March, April and May to help businesses complete a training needs analysis and a skills health check.

Following this, Realise Futures will organise for participating SMEs to get nine hours of personalised, one-to-one coaching to identify and plan staff development needs.

Based on the theme ‘Why Invest in Your People?’ the seminars will run from 9.30am to 3.30pm and will include lunch and an hour-long networking session to be held in the afternoon. 

Seminars are limited to 10 SME delegates, with a focus on SMEs in the food and agriculture, tourism and visitor economy and creative business sectors - identified as core growth areas in the New Anglia region.

Seminars take place on:

Tuesday, November 18 at Brome Grange Hotel, Norwich Road, Eye; Thursday, November 20 at Great Yarmouth Racecourse, Jellicoe Road, Great Yarmouth; Thursday, December 2 at Ipswich Football Club, Portman Road, Ipswich; Thursday, December 4 at Norwich University of the Arts in Redwell Street, Norwich; Tuesday, January 20 at Congham Hall Hotel, Grimston, Kings Lynn; and on Thursday, January 22 at a venue yet to be confirmed.

Managed by Acer, the Association of Colleges in the Eastern Region, the project is part of the Local Response Fund in each LEP area, and is co-financed by the Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund.

Realise Futures Learning and Development sales and marketing manager Laura Smith said: “Our aim is to increase SMEs understanding of the benefits of training and what’s available throughout the region. SMEs will be able to explore the methods, trends and benefits of staff development to support their organisational development.

“Our role is to offer additional support to SMEs, within key growth sectors, to undertake skills training for future business growth.

“We would certainly encourage any SMEs interested in taking part in these free seminars, skills health checks and free coaching to get in touch as soon as possible. My email address to register interest or ask any questions is”

One of the top priorities of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for Norfolk and Suffolk is to work with employers to combat skills shortages in the labour market.

In a survey of 200 businesses, it found one in four businesses, with identified skills gaps, were not acting on them, and three in 10 did not provide any training at all in the last year. (NALEP 2014.)

It is estimated there are more than 54,000 enterprises in the New Anglia area, with more than 90% of them employing less than 20 people, and that employers are not always aware of the skills they need, and what training is available.

Realise Futures is working in partnership with Ipswich-based training provider Education Training Academy, which is developing a website called PRIME (Providing Reports for Integrated Market Engagement). This will pro-actively match the skills and training needs of SMEs with education and training establishments which provide relevant courses.

The PRIME website will provide a match-making service which will save SMEs valuable time hunting for specific information and courses. It will also provide reports that will help training providers and funding agencies predict future requirements across the New Anglia region. The PRIME website – – will become available for SMEs and course providers during December.

Article by Whitehouse Enterprises