Small firms in Bradford have been urged to access a new training and development programme to improve skills and employment opportunities.

The Response Programme has been launched to help firms across the Leeds City Region, which includes Bradford, through providing free help and support for companies with growth initiatives.

The new training and development programme is being run by Leeds City College, which includes a key campus in Keighley, along with partner companies and support from the Skills Funding Agency and the city region Local Enterprise Partnership.

It aims to give small businesses a boost by helping them invest in and improve employee skills to make them more competitive.

The Response Project is tailored to meet the needs of small businesses, which are seen as vital to the economic wellbeing of the city region. It aims to support employers by providing support and bespoke advice on a range of training issues, such as taking on an apprentice, coaching and mentoring or enabling existing employees to gain new skills to boost business growth plans.

A strategic group of Leeds City Region employers and chambers of commerce has been set up to oversee the delivery of the project. The group is chaired by Tom Keeney, regional director of telecoms giant BT.

He said: “99.5 per cent of businesses in the Leeds City Region employ fewer than 250 people. They are the engine of our economy and the employers of the vast majority of the 1.3 million workforce.

“Improving their employees’ skills will improve their businesses, create jobs and deliver growth, and I urge every small business to get involved.”

The Response project has been developed to help deliver the city region’s skills priorities identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership, and aims to promote the employment of young people and support the progression of people with low skills.

Jennie Beaumont, Leeds City College head of external funding and business enterprise, said: “Leeds City College is delighted to be involved in taking an active role in supporting the continued growth of the Leeds City Region economy.

“We ask that companies who have a training or development need to come forward and take advantage of this offer.”

To find out more, contact the Response team at (0113) 3087974 or online at