1,000th grant awarded under Employer Training Incentive Pilot (ETIP) scheme for smaller firms in Suffolk and Norfolk

Mick Biegel of ETIP with David Dodd of Interex, trainer Alison Darrington and the course attendees.

Mick Biegel of ETIP with David Dodd of Interex, trainer Alison Darrington and the course attendees. - Credit: Archant

An innovative scheme which helps smaller employers to fund the training of their workforce has marked its first year of operation by paying out its 1,000th grant.

The Employer Training Incentive Pilot (ETIP) is a joint venture between the Suffolk and Norfolk chambers of commerce and supported by funding from Suffolk County Council.

Its remit is to help employers in the two counties with up to 250 staff to train employees aged 19 years and upwards, whether on accredited courses such as NVQs or in non-accredited training.

Mick Biegel, ETIP manager at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Most local businesses want to invest in skills and aptitudes as a way of both improving their competitive edge and retaining good staff.

“ETIP offers them either 25% or 30% of the costs involved to do this.”

The 1,000th grant was awarded to Needham Market-based Interex, an exporter of high performance engineering automotive and motorsport parts, which has received £362.50 towards the £1,450 cost of negotiation and communication skills training for seven members of its sales team, delivered by Darrington Training.

David Dodd, Interex managing director, said: “Having a workforce with the best skills sets is absolutely essential for us because everything we do is about customer service and so we need to be good negotiators with our suppliers and able to put together good deals for our customers. This course was, therefore, critical for us. The ETIP grant meant we could train more people.”

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Mr Biegel added: “We are all about keeping the hassle factor to a minimum, so the grant application form is short and to the point. We will make a decision about any application within two working days and we will pay grant to the business as soon as the training has been completed.

“We will consider virtually any non-mandatory training course as long as it can be shown to benefit the business applying for the grant. Furthermore, we let the employer choose which trainer to use from an extensive countywide list.”

The pilot project has another year in which to operate and Mick Biegel is keen for as many businesses to benefit as possible. “Where else nowadays can you get money back for helping your staff to be better at their jobs?” he said.

Funding for the scheme was secured through the Greater Ipswich City Deal, signed by the Government and local partners including Ipswich Building Society, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Mid Suffolk District Council, Babergh District Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society and chair of the Greater Ipswich City Deal board, said: “It is great to see that the funding secured for the local area through the Greater Ipswich City Deal is continuing to have such a positive impact on both local businesses and their employees through the Employer Training Incentive Pilot.

“It is another example, following the establishment of the MyGo Youth Employment Centre and the success of many other City Deal projects, of the ways in which the City Deal is responding to the skills needs of individuals and our local economy.”

Amanda Ankin, head of chamber services at Suffolk Chamber, added: “One of the key strategic issues for the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is to build up the skills base of our workforce to ensure that local businesses are as effective and competitive as possible. ETIP, therefore, is a vital means of achieving this objective”.

Other grants awarded by ETIP have included £1,407 for seven employees at Bury St Edmunds-based St Nicholas Hospice to achieve Level 3 qualification in leadership and management, £650 for 15 employees at Poundfield Products, based at Creeting St Peter, to acquire additional skills in overhead gantry work and crane slinging, and £866 for 14 employees at the Thetford-based British Trust for Ornithology to go through a Supportive Manager course

The total value of grants awarded by ETIP has now exceeded £230,000, which has helped release around £900,000 worth of investment in training by local employees.