A UNIQUE programme which has taken 400 employees 'back to school' in the last year has received funding to allow it to continue.
The Working for Winsford Employer Engagement Project celebrated its first successful year at an awards ceremony at Winsford Civil Hall on Friday, where Eddisbury MP Stephen O'Brien announced that funding had been secured for next year.
He helped launch the project last July at Mid-Cheshire College's Learning Zone on Winsford Industrial Estate. Using finance from the European Social Fund and the Learning and Skills Council it has so far helped more than 400 employees.
Around 200 have passed national tests in literacy and numeracy and feedback from employers including as Edmund Nuttall, County Commercial, Dewhirst, Weaver Vale Housing Trust, Royal Mail, Grampian Country Foods, Cheshire Fire Service, and Ruck Ltd has been positive.
Project co-ordinator Jayne Edwards said people had achieved in a wide variety of areas including manual handling, first aid, IT, food hygiene, team building and communications.
David Greer of the LSC said: 'Skills training has never been more important for businesses with skills gaps costing a typical 50-employee business an estimated £165,000 in lost revenue each year - 40% of adults in the workforce are lacking basic qualifications.'
Sue Chambers, course tutor, said the experience of students had been very positive - even though they originally may have had concerns about going 'back to school'.
She said: 'Arthur Booth, one of our mature students working for Edmund Nuttalls on highways maintenance, was understandably reticent about returning to the classroom after many years in full-time employment.
'But after overcoming his initial anxiety he has shown tremendous improvement in the skills he has learnt with us.'
Speaking after the ceremony, Mr O'Brien said: It was incredibly encouraging to meet all those who have completed their training in the last year.''