Businesses to benefit from Euro cash boost 

July 16, 2018

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, explains how North East firms can upskill their workforce for free, thanks to a successful bid for funding

The North East received a much-needed boost recently when it emerged that Gateshead College had secured an additional £6.4 million of European funding for companies to upskill their workforce and also get people into work.

The cash boost comes on the back of the successful delivery of Go>Grow, a project that has been managed by the college and a partnership of North East training providers since 2016.

Secured from the European Social Fund (ESF), the additional money will generate several key benefits. Not only will it help local firms to develop and strengthen their workforce for free, it will also support individuals who are looking to get back into work, progress in their current job or start their own business.

It’s a fantastic boost for the area, with employers in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham able to access free training.

Running until March 2019, the fund will support sectors identified as crucial to the fortunes of the North East economy, such as engineering, digital and health and social care.

By securing the funding, we will continue the college’s proud tradition of supporting the expansion of North East firms, helping them to upskill their workforce and ensuring they can remain competitive both now and in the future.

Our aim is to help key sectors create employment opportunities, tackle vital skills shortages and generate more value for the regional economy.

This is not the first time that we have secured European money to help the local business community. In 2016, we brought £15m of ESF funding to the region and the benefits are there for all to see.

Since then, the money has benefitted almost 1100 employers and 250 start-up enterprises, while 12,000 individuals have gained new skills through additional training. It has helped more than 650 individuals into employment and over 600 people have progressed into further education or training. These impressive outcomes were a key reason why we were able to secure the most recent award of ESF funding.

Helping local companies grow and widen their skills base is what we do best. The Go>Grow funds have benefited dozens of companies including Newcastle Airport, housing firm Gentoo and Calder’s Kitchen, a specialist Sunderland-based food business which reported an estimated 10 per cent growth in business after taking part in a ‘Boost Your Business’ course.

North East tourism was a major beneficiary of the first round of funding, with part of the money used to train more than 500 volunteers who are supporting the Great Exhibition of the North.

Meanwhile, cultural venues including Sage Gateshead and Theatre Royal invested in staff development programmes as part of the Go>Grow programme.

Local tourist attraction Beamish Museum also benefitted from the Go>Grow funding. Staff undertook training in subjects including Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Excel and Microsoft Access to support their work on Remaking Beamish, a project designed to boost visitor numbers and create more jobs at the attraction.

We’re proud to be helping these businesses fast-track their expansion plans. Ultimately, if these companies are doing well and creating jobs, the North East as a whole is more successful and prosperous – and that can only be good news for the regional economy.

Gateshead College
To find out more about Go>Grow and the courses on offer visit

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