Training for big success
A company that sells training courses to industry has won millions of pounds of new contracts.
SWA provides bespoke training, as well as nationally recognised qualifications to businesses around the UK – from trainee and apprenticeship schemes to managerial support.
The business, based in offices in Watermead Business Park, Syston, has more than doubled turnover in 2012.
Founder Steve Walker said they had taken on about a dozen staff in the last year, including trainees and apprentices, and now have 25 staff and 35 associates dotted around the country.
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The company has just picked up a contract from the Skills Funding Agency, which means it will be able to provide £500,000 of training to clients between now and next July.
That will be offered to businesses in all sectors to recruit and train new apprentices.
It has also won two training contracts worth £8 million. One, worth £3.5 million over the next year, will see SWA working with education and training provider Pearson in Practice.
The second contract, worth £4.5 million, will see it provide NVQ training on behalf of Calderdale College, in Leeds, to students across the Midlands. It came after Calderdale won tens of millions of pounds of European Social Fund cash.
Mr Walker said he had also launched a number of other companies including SWA International, which is being used to expand the training as far afield as the Middle East.
Another, called SWA Technologies, focuses on a new area for Mr Walker – e-commerce and software development for businesses.
To manage the expansion he has also brought in a new management team.
He said: "Over the last few weeks we've had a number of successes, particularly around new contracts.
"We were one of five organisations across the Midlands chosen to pilot the Skills Funding Agency training.
"That starts in November and although it covers the whole of the UK we want to work with a lot of local organisations.
"In total we've won contracts worth £8-9 million over the last few weeks, which is brilliant considering we turned over £2 million last year.
"We are still offering the services we did before, but doing a lot more commercial training and working on our directors' programmes.
"Also, working with apprentices is a new process for us, and we will be launching a new brand in relation to that over the next year.
"The new management team has meant we can develop the other companies.
"With the demise of Business Link, and similar organisations, we want to be the local company that businesses come to for help and support."
He said SWA now has about 250 clients.
Mr Walker said: "We are talking to some really good potential clients at the moment.
"We also work with lots of SMEs, which is where we came from."