A PROGRAMME offering businesses the chance to boost the skills and productivity of their workforce has been taken up by more than 300 firms in the region.

Through the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) Yorkshire, colleges and training providers in York, North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire are working together to deliver fully-funded training to some of the region's small to medium-sized businesses.

They analyse the training needs of each business, before creating a learning programme to meet the requirements of that company.

Since the launch of the SSW project in North Yorkshire, 1,150 employees have been trained.

So far in 2015, the project has engaged an additional 42 companies and a further 100 learners. Success is demonstrated by a 91 per cent success rate for learners who have completed to date.

Andy Goudie, executive director at the Grimsby Institute Group, which leads the SSW Yorkshire project, said: "As the fund manger for SSW Yorkshire, our priority is to respond to businesses and individual’s needs.

"In December 2014, our providers worked with 340 small to medium-sized businesses and, since it launched, has engaged 1,150 in tailored and demand-led training, which is ahead of the contract target.

"In responding to business demand, the providers are using the contract budget in a different way to what was first planned.

"This means the training programmes that employers require are more typically short, sharp, business-focused solutions as opposed to long-term qualifications, which was the original plan of the SSW project in England.

"Now we have recognised these needs, we have proposed a variation in the contract to enable it to help more local businesses and individuals gain the right skills to support business growth in North Yorkshire."

The Mount Hotel, in Scarborough, is one business that has seen its workforce flourish thanks to SSW Yorkshire. Five team members, including head chef Shaun Hull, have successfully completed courses at Yorkshire Coast College.

Mr Hull said: "The free training from SSW at Yorkshire Coast College has made such a difference to the business. My team is extremely hardworking and we have really gained a lot from the courses.

"The programme and the assessor were very flexible. It allowed the employees to gain a recognised qualification at their own pace and fit in with the hotel's requirements."

The national SSW project was started in 2013 and is funded by the Skills Funding Agency and European Social Fund.