skills conference 2024

Chesterfield firms urged to access skills support to grow town’s economy

Businesses across Chesterfield have been told they must act today to futureproof their businesses and the town’s economy, by ensuring their staff are receiving the relevant training and skills.

The Chesterfield Employability and Skills Conference (Thursday, 8th February 2024) was hosted in partnership by Chesterfield Borough Council and Destination Chesterfield.

The event at the Winding Wheel Theatre in the heart of the town, introduced a new wave of support for firms in the area, signposting businesses to relevant schemes which will help them to upskill and reskill their staff. Attendees at the event were given the chance to meet with representatives from the following organisations:

  • Chesterfield Borough Council, Skills Brokerage Service
  • Chesterfield College
  • Derbyshire BAME Forum
  • Direct Education Business Partnership
  • University of Derby
  • D2N2 Careers Hub/ D2N2 LEP
  • Derbyshire County Council/ National Careers Service
  • North East Derbyshire District Council
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Auto Windscreens, owned by Markerstudy Group
  • East Midlands Railway

The call for businesses to access this support comes as firms in some of the town’s key sectors say they are finding difficulties in filling vacancies with suitable skilled people.

The latest East Midlands Chamber Quarterly Economic Survey showed that more than 70% of businesses in the region are struggling to fill vacancies, with skilled manual or technical roles proving the most challenging. Industries such as construction, manufacturing, engineering, digital and health & social care are just some of the sectors which Chesterfield Borough Council aims to support with workforce growth.

To address those challenges, Chesterfield’s new skills brokerage gives businesses in the borough the opportunity to gain free, impartial, bespoke advice to support them to access funding, alongside connecting companies to training and development opportunities.

The full range of services offered includes:

  • Access a range of fully funded courses to upskill the workforce, ranging from basic skills and business fundamentals to leadership and management, green and digital skills.
  • Accessing a variety of funding streams.
  • Support to employ Apprentices, including how to access apprenticeship funding and information around the apprenticeship levy.
  • Recruitment and retention advice.
  • Succession planning.
  • Advice and continued support.

Michael Timmins, Director at AECOM and Chair of the Chesterfield Skills and Employment Partnership said: “It was fantastic to see so many businesses in attendance at the Employability and Skills Conference. We know that firms across our area are concerned about the future of their workforces, so it is extremely important that we continue to highlight the support that is out there. I would urge businesses of all sizes to make the most of the assistance available. We must all work together to secure the future growth of Chesterfield and ensure that our workforce has the right skills and abilities to meet future challenges.”

Michael Timmins  speaking at 2024 employability and skills conference

Cllr Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council and Vice Chair of the Chesterfield Skills and Employment Partnership said: “We work closely with a wide range of partners to help local people develop the skills that businesses need both now and, in the future, which in turn will help ensure everyone can benefit from a growing local economy.

“Our Skills Brokerage service aims to help businesses access the funding and the information they need to deliver skills development programmes for their employees, but this is just one of the initiatives we have launched that aim to help businesses based in our borough to grow. If you are running a business in Chesterfield, please contact our team directly to find out more about the support available to you.”

Cllr Tricia Gilby speaking at 2024 skills and employability conference

For more information about this service or to arrange a meeting contact Chris McKechnie, Skills Brokerage Business Advisor by calling 07583416749 or emailing

Chesterfield Borough Council’s Skills Brokerage Service is benefiting from funding through the UKSPF, after the council was successful in securing £2.6m from the Government. It will fund initiatives up to April 2025, which are designed to improve life for local people and support local businesses.