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Developing Skills for Business – support available

The Developing Skills for Business (DS4B) project is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and works with employers to design, develop and pilot training and apprenticeships to improve the relevance of skills training for local businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The support available

From my reading of the material, there are three main strands to the support available:

Apprenticeship Development FundEligible small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) will be able to apply for grants of £3,000 to help them engage in the co-development of apprenticeship provision and to the trial, evaluate and assess their effectiveness.

• Employers will receive £1,000 when they employ an apprentice following a co-development workshop of a specific apprenticeship standard. This could include tailoring existing or developing new programmes through flexible, innovative delivery models which are relevant to the needs of local businesses

• Employers will receive £2,000 at the end of the project: a trial of the new apprenticeship programme and evaluation and assessment of the delivery model.  Dependant on eligibility and evidence

Developing Skills for Business Voucher SchemeEligible SMEs will be able to apply for further grants of between £200 and £2,000 to support activity such as:

• Placement costs e.g. work placement, internship, pre-apprenticeship work trial

• Knowledge exchange e.g. conference, forum, industry visit

• Other: SME must provide evidence of alignment with project aims and value for money

Non-grant funded programme activityThe programme supports partner organisations to undertake activity under the following themes:

• Sector co-ordination (increasing the participation of businesses in skills development)

• Engaging businesses in the co-design of skills programmes to address skills gaps

• Supporting businesses in new delivery partnership arrangements

• Creation of placements (collaborative projects and work placements)


To receive grants and support, employers will need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Business is an SME (less than 250 employees)
  • Proposed Activity Links to a LEP/ ESB Priority Sector
  • SME commits to providing and evidencing active engagement in development and training

Businesses and proposed activity must link to the following priority sectors identified by the LEP’s ESB: • Agri-Food (including Agri-Tech) • Marine (including Marine Tech) • Retail • Health and Social Care (including Health and Well-being)

More information

Based on the material, more information about specific activities and events, please refer to the partner organisation leading each sector:

  • Cornwall Marine Network (Marine – Marine Tech, Retail)
  • Cornwall Council (Construction, Health & Social Care)
  • SBD Associates / Cornwall
  • Manufacturers Group (Manufacturing)
  • Software Cornwall (Digital – Software)
  • Digital Peninsula Network (Digital – Wider sector)
  • Pirate FM (Digital – Media)
  • Cornwall Food Foundation (Hospitality, Agrifood)
  • Cornwall Chamber of Commerce (SMEs – large company supply chain)

For further information, please contact Ken Martin, Project Coordinator on

A personal note

When my colleague was part of the Board of Directors of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, the perceived disconnect between an employers’ requirements and the focus of the educational system was often raised as a point so it is pleasing to see this initiative looing to address this.

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