Returning to work after having time out to raise a family can be daunting and, when it involves managing a team of people, often the challenge can seem overwhelming.
This was the position that Gillian Coleman found herself in when she started working at the Zinthiya Trust, a small Leicester-based charity offering support and advice to women and families from disadvantaged backgrounds.
After 16 years out raising a family, Gillian joined the Trust helping to run the office and training café next door.
“It was great to be back working,” explains Gillian, “But it was the first time in my employment that I had ever managed staff, and I had a team of 15 staff and volunteers to oversee.
“My employment in the past had been varied - I’ve been a train announcer for the railway and also a clerical officer. While I had good day-job skills, I felt I lacked certain management skills to effectively do my job, such as confidence in myself, and knowing how to encourage and praise staff to get the best out of them.”
It was Gillian’s manager who told her about the Skills Support for the Workforce project, which has a fund of £1.8m to provide fully-funded leadership and management training courses for business and organisations in Leicester and the wider Leicestershire region.
The scheme, which is co-financed by the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, offer businesses of all types - large, small to medium, sole traders, social enterprises or third sector organisations - the chance for staff to gain professional leadership and management training to help raise productivity and boost business growth.
Gillian explained: “While Calderdale College oversee the training, they matched me with a local Skills Support adviser from CASE, which specialises in delivering training and support for co-operatives and social enterprises in Leicester, Leicestershire and the East Midlands.
“I was amazed at the range of leadership and management courses available. Together we looked at all the options, including people management, team leading, influencing skills, conflict management, strategic management, organisational planning and financial management, and I enrolled on a programme that directly met my needs.”
Training leads to great results
Since undertaking the course, Gillian has gone from strength to strength. As well as improving her communication skills, it has improved her confidence and opened up new work-related opportunities.
“The course has made such a huge difference to me and the Trust,” she says. “It’s helped me provide a better service to employees by giving me the confidence to delegate jobs to others, rather than take on all the work myself.
“It has also given me the skills to work confidently on my own tasks and carry things through to their conclusion, but also encouraged me to ask for help when needed.
“I am now able to delegate more effectively but most importantly, the course has given me more confidence when talking to people that I don’t know, which is a skill I felt I had lost in the last 16 years by being at home raising a family.”
Gillian is hoping that the training she has received will stand her in good stead for the future and, while she has no further plans to move on in her job, she feels she is now able to provide a better service to employees and customers at the Trust.
Ebrahim Dockrat, External Funding Director of Calderdale College, the main contractor for Skills Support for the Workforce, highlighted the benefits of the project saying: “The free training on offer through the Skills Support for the Workforce project has been specifically designed to bridge the gap in leadership and management skills within the region, which is just as important for larger organisations as it is for SMEs.
“By training your staff, you can improve your ability to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment, nurture a leadership team for the future and become an employer of choice for emerging talent.
“As this training is funded with European money, this is the last project of its kind. This funding is only available until July 2018, so it’s a case of get it while you still can.”
For more information on the Skills Support for the Workforce project, and to see if your business is eligible for fully-funded training, click here