Working in the voluntary sector can be rewarding, but it can also be demanding, with individuals often having to take on multiple roles and tasks due to limited resources and funding.
This was the challenge for Anamaria Garcia, who has worked as an administrator at The Race Equality Centre in Leicester for 12 years.
“While my work primarily focuses on the administrative and financial side of the charity’s work, the nature of working in the voluntary sector means you end up taking on multiple roles and tasks,” explains Anamaria.
“I ended up managing a European funded project delivering business training and advice. I really enjoyed it and the experience made me realise I would like to start taking on more tasks like that and officially manage and run my own projects.
“Whilst I didn’t have experience managing in a working environment, I had the skills. So before I could start to do it, I felt I needed some formal training to acknowledge these skills as well as learning other aspects of management.
“But when you work in the voluntary sector, it can often be hard to justify spending money on staff training when the funding could be used in a more direct way to benefit the community.”
The Skills Support for the Workforce project offers fully-funded training designed to help businesses fill skill gaps, raise productivity and boost business growth. There is a specific pot of £1.8m to provide fully-funded leadership and management training courses for businesses 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.
Calderdale College is responsible for overseeing delivery of the training across several regions in the UK, including Leicestershire, and it put her in touch 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.
After a skills assessment, Anamaria undertook a Leadership and Management course to equip her with the basic management skills she needed.
“The training was great,” Anamaria explains. “While I actually already had the skills necessary to manage, I hadn’t realised it, so the training formalised what I knew and gave me the confidence to implement my knowledge and learning.”
She now hopes to undertake the Level 3 Leadership and Management course to build on her knowledge and fully understand the skills necessary to manage a successful project and associated staff.
“As a small organisation, and particularly being a voluntary one, it is so hard to support employees to develop the skills and knowledge needed to ensure the successful operation and ultimately the growth of the organisation.
“This funding has been so useful. It has allowed the charity to support training that it may not have otherwise been able to access but greatly needed, and will really help me and the charity for the foreseeable future. Ultimately it will make a huge difference to the projects and training we are capable of delivering into the community.”
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.
“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 be an attractive place to work.
“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