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Recruitment, skills & redundancies

If you would like some help with taking on more staff, developing your employee's workforce capabilities or need to manage redundancies, there’s a lot of free support available.

Help with training your workforce

Skills Portal

Nottinghamshire County Council has brought together details of employment and skills support schemes and grant funding in one place making it easier for people to search for suitable support.

This portal offers help to both businesses and individuals - more on the Nottinghamshire County Council free Skills Portal.

D2N2 Skills Access Hub

SMEs can get free advice and support for their employees, including access one-to-one skills diagnostics, tailored action plans, and help with accessing and agreeing training packages with local providers.

Find out more on the D2N2 Skills Access Hub website or contact them by:

Peer Networks

SME business owners can get help to improve their problem-solving and leadership skills. To be eligible for this programme you must be an established business with a minimum of 5 employees and generate a turnover in excess of £100K. Participants will improve their skills in leadership, management, digital technologies including cyber security, sales, e-commerce and marketing.

Find out more on the D2N2 Peer Networks website.

Priority Skills for D2N2 SMEs

SMEs can access free bespoke, employer-led training, career coaching and advice to up-skill their employees in vocational and high-level technical skills.

Nottingham Trent Union is currently offering 3 fully-funded courses to employees from SMEs and one of these is a 3-day course focused on Practical Marketing Skills. This is a 4-day course accredited at level 3 to help increase peoples marketing skills to better promote their products and services.

Find out more on the Priority Skills for D2N2 SMEs website or contact them by:

Degree Level Apprenticeships (NTU)

Specially designed by industry for industry – these apprenticeships help to address the growing need for a more modernised workforce with the emphasis on digital, technical, engineering, and managerial skills.

Find out more on the Nottingham Trent University - Apprenticeships website or contact them by:

Skills support for the workplace

This programme delivers skills training through a network of training providers managed by SERCO. Businesses can receive funded support for the development of skills that focus on the following sectors:

  • transport equipment manufacturing
  • low carbon
  • life sciences
  • transport and logistics
  • food and drink manufacturing
  • visitor economy
  • creative and digital industries
  • construction.

It’s free, there’s no cost to the employer and comes with full skills analysis so it’s tailored to suit each person, on or off site and staff will also gain a recognised accreditation.

You can find out more on the Skills Support for the Workplace website or contact them by:

Branch out in STEM and STEM Women in Leadership

Branch out Discover NTU’s fully funded courses designed for employees of SMEs operating in the STEM sectors to develop their skills in areas relevant to their specific roles, as well as those areas that also provide a direct benefit to the business as a whole. The Branch out in STEM project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and offers free bespoke, employer-led training to employees of SMEs with courses such as:

  • Digital Fundamentals – Marketing (Level 3)
  • STEM Women in Leadership (Level 7)
  • Medtech Compliance and Regulations

Businesses can also access a £1,500 talent grant towards a graduate’s salary for a placement of up to 6 weeks.

NatWest Business Builder Workshops

A series of free workshops that can help you to upskill and network with other like-minded business owners. There are 10 workshops which have been designed to support you with developing your business in a post-COVID world, allowing you to test new thoughts and ideas, bringing them to life quickly and sustainably. To sign up, search NatWest Business Builder on Eventbrite!

The NatWest Accelerator Programme

Is made up of 4 x free separate programmes: High Growth, Climate, FinTech and Purpose-led. Each module provides: 1-on-1 coaching, thought leadership events, access to a network of like-minded peers, supported by NatWest Ecosystem Managers and access to business sector experts. You can also use modern co-working spaces in one of their nationwide hubs. In short, this programme provides ‘wrap around’ support and access to expertise to remove barriers, providing more opportunities to help customers grow.

Fully funded distance learning courses

A range of adult education courses are available cross a different sectors, these can offer an ideal training solution. At no cost to your organisation, staff can excel in their role with a nationally recognised qualification.

Find out more about fully funded distance learning courses.

Functional Skills

Employers can access free basic IT, ESOL and functional skills (English and Maths) courses for their staff.

Find out more about City & Guilds Maths, English and ICT functional skills on their website or contact Inspire on:

Or Academy Transformation Trust Further Education on:

Construction Industry Training Board

CITB is the Construction Industry Training Board and they work with the construction industry to help attract talent and support the development of trade skills.

They can offer a wide range of specialist trade apprenticeships, training courses and advice to help businesses and some of these are grant funded. You can find out more on the CITB website or speak with a CITB advisor by contacting them by:

Help with taking on more staffs

New traineeships

A new government scheme that provides work placements for 16- to 24-year-olds. It gives young people an opportunity to get some work experience in readiness for their first job after leaving school or college.

This package will provide £1,000 per employee receiving work experience. Employers must provide a minimum of 100 hours work experience to qualify, although this can be relaxed to between just 60-90 hours if it’s considered to be a high quality placement. 

Find out more about new traineeships

Kick-Start Scheme

This scheme provides 6 month long work placements for young people aged 16-24, who are on universal credit and are at particular risk of long-term unemployment. This scheme gives employers 100% of the minimum wage for up to 25 hours a week.

Employers national insurance contributions under auto enrolment will also be funded. SMEs must offer 30 job placements, or they can join with other SMEs to put in a joint bid.

Closing date for all applications  17 December 2021.


Employers can get £3,000 payment per hire, regardless of the apprentice’s age. This is on top of the £1,000 incentive payment provided for new apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan, meaning that some employers could receive £4,000 in total. Please know that this incentive payment will close at the end of January 2022.

Nottingham Trent University Graduates and Undergraduates

SME’s can take on an undergraduate or a graduate at certain times of the year into their business which can be generally at no cost to the employer.

Nottingham Trent University have a range of funded projects to help support businesses with graduate recruitment from 6-weeks to 12-months based on an SMEs project eligibility. This can be used to support a specific project to help a business with improving their marketing, graphic design, and websites etc.

Find out more about work experience for graduates and undergraduates on the Nottingham Trent univerity website or contact them by:

University of Nottingham Graduates

Recruiting sharp minds can bring fresh thinking and insights local businesses. University of Nottingham students are highly sought after by some of the world’s top companies, innovative start-ups, and third-sector organisations. Grants and project schemes are available to assist SME’s with working with local talent. 

Find out more about University of Nottingham Graduates on their website or contact them by:

University of Derby Graduates

The University of Derby have 2 programmes: Through the University’s Derby Talent programme, businesses can bring new skills and knowledge to their organisation and get £1000 funding towards the cost of employing a University of Derby graduate on an internship for a minimum period of 8 months.

Through the university’s Driven programme SMEs in the D2N2 region can inject new ‘skills and expertise’ into their businesses with a part-funded 400-hour internship or a fully funded 80-hour internship.

Department for Work and Pensions - local employer engagement team

If you are looking to employ people then it’s useful to speak to the Department for Work and Pensions Job Centre, they can advise on any grants and assist you to advertise and find the right people to fill your vacancies.

You can contact them by:

Sector-Based Work Academies

Prepare for individuals in receipt of unemployment benefits to apply for jobs within different vocational areas. These academies are carefully designed to help employers meet their immediate and future recruitment needs.

Find out more in the employer guide to sector-based academy programme or contact:

T-Level Incentive Grants

This is an incentive scheme to encourage employers to take on students aged 16 to 19 on a high-quality industry placement from 27 May 2021 and 31 July 2022.

Employers can claim £1000 for every T-Level student they host, up to a maximum of £20,000. All placements must be delivered in the workplace and they cannot be offered through a remote-working model.

Find out more on the T-Levels website, contact your local school or college, or contact:

  • telephone: 08000 150 600

Help with managing redundancies

D2N2 - the Local Enterprise Partnership

D2N2 are asking any businesses if they have already made employees redundant or are about to make up to five employees redundant, could they please refer those individuals for direct support to Futures, the National Careers Service provider for the East Midlands.

Find out more on the D2N2 the Local Enterprise Partnership website or you can contact them by:

Skills support for redundancy

This initiative is designed to support employers and individuals affected by redundancy. It is a tailored service and offers support with a dedicated Partnership Coordinator will work with all parties to identify the best sources of support to help to enable staffs to move into new jobs. 

Find out more about skills support for redundancy or you can contact them by:

Rapid Response Service

If you have to make redundancies, Job Centre Plus can give you and your employees support and advice through its Rapid Response Service.

You can find out more on the Rapid Response Service website or to find out how your business can use the Rapid Response Service contact them by: 

Your email should include:

  • your contact details
  • the town(s) your business is based in (including postcodes)
  • and the location(s) of the redundancies.

The Gov.UK website

Provides information and guidance about employing people:

The Business Support Helpline can also help provide guidance on this issue. Contact them by: 

  • telephone: 0300 456 3565

Universal Jobmatch

Free online system which matches candidates to jobs. Businesses can advertise jobs and search for jobseekers whose CVs match their needs.

Find out more on the JobMatch website.  

Small Business Recruitment Service

Government service which provides individual support for small businesses, including:

  • a helpline with specialist advisers who understand small businesses’ recruitment needs
  • help with the design and wording of job vacancies to ensure that businesses get the best person for the job
  • signposting to other types of support (eg ACAS for employment legislation issues)
  • a contact who can advise on the local labour market
  • an aftercare service to ensure business continue to get the service they need after they’ve recruited someone

Contact the service by:

  • telephone: 0845 601 2001 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

Employment Allowance

Small Business employers can get £4,000 by claiming this relief on National Insurance bills. Employment Allowance is for nearly all employers that pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions on their employees’ and directors’ earnings.

This includes businesses and charities. You can find out more on the Employment Allowance

Ways to contact business support

The best way to contact us is through our online form so we have the right information to help you as quickly as possible. Contact us by: