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£8m skills programme to create post-covid workforce

A new skills programme is being launched by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to support local businesses – as they face new pressures from COVID-19.

Workforce for the Future is a free service that will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) address their skills needs.

Co-funded by the European Social Fund, it has been put in place by WECA as part of a package of measures to help kick-start the regional economy – following the coronavirus outbreak.

It will enable SMEs to train employees in areas such as digital skills or support them to bring in new staff – including apprentices or work placements – to drive their business forward..

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “Backing our businesses with the skills they need to emerge strongly from the pandemic and protecting and securing decent jobs is at the heart of my plan for our economic recovery…

“Workforce for the Future will help us adapt and evolve to the changing world and seize the opportunities that digitalisation and new technology present, supporting our businesses and shaping our talent pool to meet the needs of tomorrow.”

The service is available to SMEs with less than 250 employees based in the West of England (Bristol, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire).

For more information about the Workforce for the Future programme visit

A wider package of support available through WECA – including a redundancy support package, Future Bright training and the government’s Kickstart programme – can be accessed through the regional Growth Hub which has been expanded to help businesses through Covid-19.