Skip to sub navigation Skip to main content

Improving employees skills

Training your staff and upskilling your employees can help your business to grow, find efficiencies and improve business processes.

It can also create a more loyal workforce as your employees will know that you are willing to invest in them and their careers by allowing them to gain them the knowledge and skills to do their job well.

Find training solutions for your workforce

Nottinghamshire County Council skills portal

Nottingham County Council has brought together details of employment and skills support schemes and grant funding in one place making it easier for people to search for suitable support. This free portal offers help to both businesses and individuals.

D2N2 Skills Access Hub

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can get free advice and support for their employees, including access one to one skills diagnostics, tailored action plans, and help with accessing and agreeing training packages with local providers.

Find Government training and employment schemes - Free comparison tool

There's a range of government programmes available for employers who are considering hiring, offering work experience or upskilling there existing staff. This platform will helps you to understand what each scheme does, and how it adds value to your business. It's been designed to help businesses quickly compare what's available so that you can make more informed workforce development decisions.

The Ashfield enterprise project

The Ashfield enterprise project offer several methods of helping local businesses.

Nottingham Trent University work with small and medium enterprises in Kirkby in Ashfield and Sutton in Ashfield, to help them identify what skills are needed now and in the future. They will also help you to develop your workforce capabilities with an emphasis on digitisation and advanced manufacturing, as these are important future skills needs within our district. These courses close in March 2026.

  • Skills

There are free short courses on a range of topics, such as:

  • Branding and communication
  • Creative graphics for marketing and communication
  • Graphic design for beginners
  • 3D printing and Laser cutting
  • CAD for beginners
  • Design thinking and innovation
  • Presenting and powerful storytelling
  • Video Making for marketing and communication
  • Growth

The Ashfield Enterprise project is suitable for high growth potential businesses in Kirkby in Ashfield and Sutton in Ashfield, looking for help to scale-up their business. Participants will receive a critical review of their operations, scale-up challenges, opportunities and improve their leadership and management skills. Participants can access a 50% grant of £1500 towards the cost of this programme (which is valued at £3000).

  • Accelerator programme

Small and medium enterprises in Kirkby in Ashfield and Sutton in Ashfield can access an intensive mentoring programme for rapid growth businesses. They will participate in workshops and round tables, led by industry and academic specialists in business growth, and receive one-to-one mentoring to support their growth aspirations.

  • Breakthrough programme

This programme is available to micro businesses (so you must employ less than 10 members of staff) who have been trading for at least one year, and are based in Kirkby in Ashfield or Sutton in Ashfield.

The Breakthrough programme gives training in strategic leadership and management, assisting businesses to increase their growth potential, grow new markets, and enhance job creation opportunities in expert workshops, and peer-to-peer learning.

NatWest business builder workshops

The business builder workshops are free, to help you to up-skill and network with other like-minded business owners. There are 10 workshops which have been designed to support you with developing your business in a post-COVID world, allowing you to test new thoughts and ideas, bring them to life quickly and sustainably. To sign up to the workshops, search for NatWest business builder on Eventbrite.

Work with a Mentor - Be the Business UK

Free mentoring and online support to help SME business leaders improve the performance of their businesses is available through Be the Business UK. This is available for start-ups and established businesses, and provides support over 12 weeks to 12 months.

Leadership programmes

Peer Networks

Peer Networks is a peer-to-peer networking programme for small and medium enterprises, which brings together businesses to learn from one another and work through issues via interactive action learning, led by a skilled facilitator. To be eligible for the programme you must be an established business with a minimum of 5 employees, and generate a turnover in excess of £100,000.

The NatWest accelerator programme

The free NatWest accelerator programme is for high growth businesses looking to expand, and is made up of 4 separate programmes:

  • High Growth
  • Climate
  • FinTech
  • Purpose-led.

Each programme offers one-on-one coaching, thought leadership events, access to a network of like minded business people, supported by NatWest Ecosystem managers, and access to business sector experts. You can also access co-working spaces in one of their nationwide hubs. This programme provides ‘wrap around’ support and access to expertise to remove barriers, providing more opportunities to help customers grow.

Breakthrough - SUDS area

This programme is aimed at supporting established micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nottingham who want to benefit from expertise to 'drive their economic growth' and bring their business 'vision to reality'. It's been designed to help businesses identify key obstacles to their growth possibilities and find ways to overcome them.

This programme is only available for businesses based in the following areas: Nottingham City, Broxtowe, and certain wards in Ashfield (parts of Hucknall only), parts of Gedling and Rushcliffe.

Upscaler – SUDS Area

This programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund until June 2023. Support is available to SMEs based in the Greater Nottingham (SUDS) area, which includes all of Nottingham City and Broxtowe Borough, and parts of Ashfield, Rushcliffe, and Gedling. You can view the SUDS PDF map online, for a full list of eligible locations. This programme supports SME’s that are rapidly growing or have the potential to do so.

To be eligible you must already employ 10 or more employees and have a turnover of between £1 million to circa £45 million per annum.

STEM Women in leadership

This is an European Social Fund (ESF) part-funded course, designed specifically for employees of businesses operating in the science, technology, engineering or mathematics sectors (STEM), or for those that would like to work in the area.

Set at level 7, the course was designed by experts working in Nottingham Trent University's Medical Technologies Innovation Facility (MTIF) and delivered by Nottingham Business School. The course is suitable for women in management roles or working towards leadership and management roles.

Nottingham Trent University also offers several other STEM related courses:

  • MedTech Compliance and Regulations which focuses on the changing regulatory environment around medical devices and in vitro diagnostics
  • Digital Fundamentals Level 3

Register your interest and join the waiting list by emailing -

Help to grow management course

This is an executive development programme to support small and medium enterprises to boost their business performance and growth potential, accredited by the Small Business Charter. Small business leaders will develop their strategic skills to increase their business’s long term productivity, resilience and capacity to innovate.

  • Hybrid virtual/in person programme; 50 hours over 12 weeks, designed to be manageable alongside full time work
  • Participants will receive 10 hours of one to one support from a mentor to develop a business growth plan. The programme includes 8 hours of peer-to-peer learning and access to an alumni network
  • The course 90% funded by government (the course is valued at £7500); participants pay a fee of £750, 10% contribution towards the overall course cost
  • The course is delivered by a group of the UK’s leading business schools
  • You must employ between 5 to 249 employees and be a senior manager to take part in the programme. It is also restricted to one participant per business.

Re-skill and Recover

A fully funded programme designed to help strengthen organisations during an uncertain climate, by providing business skills that will support productivity and growth. It’s being delivered by University of Derby, Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, Nottingham College, East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, Enable, and the Workers’ Educational Association.

SME’s can undertake 5 modules; each module provides a level 4 accreditation. The closing date for this project has not yet been given.

  1. Digital Marketing
  2. Introduction to HR Practices
  3. Customer Service Excellence
  4. The Professional Sales Process
  5. Managing projects effectively
  6. Exploring new business models and opportunities
  7. Assessing supply chains and resilient operations
  8. Ensuring a sustainable and profitable business.

Training courses for the Construction sector

CITB - Construction Industry Training Board

The Construction Industry Training board work with the construction industry to help attract talent and support the development of trade skills. They can offer a wide range of specialist trade apprenticeships, training courses and advice to help businesses and some of these are grant funded.

Training courses for other sectors

The Branch-Out in STEM Programme - Free short courses

The Branch out in STEM project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and supports employees of SMEs to access free bespoke, employer-led training, career coaching and advice to up-skill their employees in vocational and high-level technical skills.