Businesses in Wakefield and across the Leeds City Region are benefitting from over £2 million worth of training grants thanks to the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The funding has supported the training of over 600 businesses, enabling them to invest in the development of their workforce.
One business benefitting from the support is Conservatory Outlet, a Wakefield-based home improvement company, specialising in the manufacture of energy efficient windows, replacement doors, conservatories, orangeries and bespoke extensions.
Conservatory Outlet has grown rapidly and continuously over the past five years in particular, and sights are set firmly on surpassing £20 million turnover by 2018. One of many contributing factors to The Company’s success is a high quality finished product which is manufactured in accordance with ISO 9001 Quality Management System standards. Conservatory Outlet first received ISO 9001 accreditation in 2008 and has operated to these exacting levels ever since.
In order to meet revised ISO 9001 standards in 2015, Conservatory Outlet was required to put in place a robust internal audit process, and therefore approached the LEP for a grant to undertake ISO 9001 Internal Auditor Training.
Karen Starkey, HR Manager of Conservatory Outlet explains: “We were keen to optimize our auditing skills and capabilities, as well as increase staff knowledge of planning, performing and reporting on an effective audit. Thanks to the skills funding from the LEP, four of our staff were able to undertake the Internal Auditor Training, enabling us to continue to uphold our ISO 9001 accreditation.
“We have plans to grow the business through investing in a new state-of-the-art cutting centre for manufacturing. This will allow us to provide high quality, innovative and competitively priced products to customers, increasing production, product range and ultimately turnover and profitability. We are also planning to invest in more advanced IT and efficiency solutions which will further help us improve productivity. By investing in staff through training, we hope to both attract and retain the best workers who will take pride in their role at Conservatory Outlet and provide excellent customer service.
“For us, this training is just the first step in a number of staff development activities we have identified as key to achieving our growth ambitions.”
Mark Ridgway, LEP Board member and chair of the skills service management board, said: “We’re delighted that we could provide Conservatory Outlet with the funding that the business needs for the next stage of its expansion plan.
“Employers have the opportunity to work with a team of expert skills advisors, discuss their long term growth plans and skills needs, and put together a robust training plan for their staff. Offering a comprehensive service to businesses, the team of advisors support employers to tackle paperwork, source appropriate training provision and submit an application for funding. The LEP is dedicated to ensuring local businesses, primed for growth, have the skills to succeed.”
As part of the LEP’s wider ambitions to invest in business growth, the skills service can support up to 50% of training costs for eligible businesses throughout the Leeds City Region through grants of between £500 and £50,000.