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£1.8m ‘GOAL’ to help SMEs grow through apprenticeships

24 October 2017

Gloucestershire College has joined forces with South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS), Gloucestershire Enterprise Limited and the University of Gloucestershire to launch GOAL, a regional partnership with one objective: to Grow Opportunities for Apprenticeships Locally.

Supporting the wider college aim of providing the skills, talent and services our employers need to be successful, GOAL will showcase the benefits of apprenticeships to SMEs, whilst facilitating their ability to provide more apprenticeship opportunities at all levels, to new and existing staff.

The partners successfully bid for over £1.8m of funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) to provide a number of support programmes to businesses employing 250 staff or less, including an impartial matching service, a full mapping of current apprenticeship provision to identify gaps and inform growth, and campaigns to raise awareness of apprenticeships, in line with government objectives. 

Over 1,000 SMEs in Gloucestershire are estimated to benefit from GOAL; discovering how apprenticeships can support their current business plans and enable future growth and sustainability. Apprenticeship vacancies will be made available to current employees of these SMEs, people recently made redundant who are seeking higher level apprenticeships, and apprentices just leaving formal education.

Rachel Hall, ESF Project Manager at Gloucestershire College, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with South Gloucestershire and Stroud College on this exciting project. We look forward to helping local businesses by raising awareness of the apprenticeship reforms and promoting the benefits of apprenticeships for businesses who have never taken on an apprentice before; talking them through how to advertise and recruit, and select the right person to meet the business needs.  

“The programme also raises awareness of how all existing employees can access apprenticeship funding to gain valuable skills and qualifications to progress their careers and add value to their organization.”

Sara-Jane Watkins, Principal of SGS College added: We recognise that it can be very difficult to navigate the current apprenticeship schemes and find appropriate funding support for staff. This project is free to SMEs and it will make it far easier for businesses to know who offers what, quickly and easily.”

If you are an SME looking to grow through apprenticeships, please email Rachel Hall at

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We have a lot of experience offering Apprenticeships and work-related training. We have industry-standard facilities and experienced teaching staff which provide the ideal complement to work-based learning.

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