Business expertise to support employers upskill their workforce

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has welcomed six new business leaders to support delivery of the LEP’s skills and training offer to small and medium sized businesses.

The business leaders join Mark Ridgway OBE DL, of Group Rhodes in Wakefield, in overseeing the LEP skills service, a service designed to support small and medium sized business in Leeds City Region to upskill their staff and benefit from the £13.9 million funding available for training and development.

The service has already supported over 100 businesses invest in training and has provided more than 700 employees with an opportunity to learn new skills and develop existing skills. The funding is available to eligible employers looking to invest in their staff and have until spring 2017 to take advantage of the support and expertise available.

The new business leaders bring skills and experience from a number of the Leeds City Region’s key sectors and will work with the LEP to provide strategic oversight of the skills service project and ensure that businesses yield maximum impact from the funding available.

Julie Edmondson, Owner and Managing Director of business networking organisation the Met Club is passionate about developing companies and driving forward the North as an outstanding place for investment. She brings to the board particular expertise in event management and employer engagement.

Dan Conboy, Director of Wakefield digital marketing agency, Statement, brings a personal insight into the challenges small businesses in this key sector face when looking to grow. As a founding member of Cognitiv, a creative industries group building relationships between businesses and education, he brings local knowledge and experience to the LEP.

As an Executive Director and one of the owners of Curtins Consulting Ltd., an Engineering Consultancy within the construction and property industry, Neil Parkinson is well placed to represent the Manufacturing & Engineering sector. He is committed to giving something back to the region and supporting businesses to achieve their potential.

Graham Sweeney, Operations Director of Schofield Sweeney LLP is an advocate of skills and career progression having been directly involved in the recruitment and development of a wide range of staff himself, supporting apprentices to progress into permanent roles.

Alastair Kitching, CEO of Esteem Systems Plc. has an active interest in the development of small and medium businesses. Having sat on the CBI Yorkshire and Humber Council for the last nine years, sees himself as a voice for SME technology companies and is keen to act as an advocate for business growth.

Stephen Semple, Regional Managing Director of Balfour Beatty, a leading international infrastructure group, brings expertise of the Low Carbon and Construction industries and further insight into the skills demand within these sectors.

Board Chair, Mark Ridgway OBE DL, of Group Rhodes said:

“I am pleased to welcome new talent to oversee this important skills programme. All bring with them a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm in supporting businesses to grow and develop their staff.

“I am confident that their insight, first hand experience and specialist sector knowledge will play a huge role in ensuring the success of the LEP skills service and in supporting employers poised for growth within the Leeds City Region to develop the skilled workforces needed to achieve their ambitions.”

The LEP are currently looking for inspiring business leaders to represent the logistics and transport sector and the medical technologies sector on the skills service management board. To find out more email