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More than 400 employees from across 220 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Lancashire have signed up to participate in one of the county’s major leadership skills programmes, delivered by Edge Hill’s Business School.

The Leading Lancashire project, part-funded by the European Social Fund, aims to develop the skills of employees and embed new leadership and management capabilities in the region’s SMEs, through the delivery of professional Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications.

The effects of Covid-19 have prompted businesses and employees of SMEs across the region to seek support to help build resilience among their management teams and for individuals to strengthen their personal portfolio with a nationally recognised qualification.

John Mercer, Associate Director of Edge Hill’s Business School and Director of the University’s Leading Lancashire programme, said: “We are delighted that the project has supported so many local employees and SMEs across Lancashire so far. By offering the CMI professional courses online with access to supporting learning resources this has been of great benefit to student practitioners.

“The flexibility of our delivery has reflected in the number of applications we have received and the success of previous learners. Our expert tutors provide a business approach to using well-recognised management tools to assist in motivating and bringing the best out of staff, to build efficiency and effectiveness in their businesses that enables them to compete in the dynamic and ever-changing SME sector.”

Throughout 2020 there was a notable uptake of places for the online qualifications, which are offered exclusively at no-cost to employers or employees of Lancashire-based SMEs.

Sarah Ormsby is the Operations Manager for Raised Floor Solutions based in Skelmersdale and has recently completed the CMI Leadership and Management Level 4 qualification.

Sarah said: “The CMI course is a fantastic opportunity for anyone wanting to expand their theoretical knowledge through an accessible and practical medium. I have formalised my management experience and gained new skills and knowledge which I can apply to my professional career. The tutors at the Business School have offered their support, experience and knowledge to help me apply my learning in my working environment with confidence.”

The project is encouraging applications from females and members of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled communities. Priority will be offered to those applications during 2021.

Minority groups have been the focus of the leadership project since it began in January 2020 and 69% of applicants have enrolled onto one of the CMI courses available.

The programme is designed to help them develop and formalise their skills and knowledge in leadership and management resulting in greater confidence to stimulate progression into senior roles.

The new year has brought a surge in online applications for the fully funded places on the programmes starting in January.

Course dates are being added to the Business School programme for 2021 and more information and details of how to apply can be accessed via the website.

Edge Hill’s Business School offers students an environment to grow and develop, enriched by its partnerships with some of the world’s leading universities, key national and regional employers and businesses and with the major professional bodies across its degree subjects.

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