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Caithness News Bulletins January 2005

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SKILLS GRANTS
People in Caithness and Sutherland who aren't working or who work part time and want to move into full time employment are being encouraged by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) to take up an individual skills development grant.

CASE offers help, advice and funding - up to 750 a year depending on circumstances - to people who can't find work or who are working part-time and want to improve their job prospects. Funding support ranges from 25 per cent of costs for non certificated courses to 75 per cent of costs for certificated courses.

Donna Booth, a development manager with CASE, said: "Re-establishing workplace skills and knowledge is key to finding a job. At CASE, we recognise that if you have been out of the job market for some time, you need a hand to get going again. Our funding support for people preparing for work is flexible and takes account of individual circumstances.

"Aiming for a certificated learning experience is a way of showing potential employers what you can do. People have used the individual skills development grant to gain qualifications in such diverse areas as, LGV driver, European Safety Passport, Rope Access, Hospitality Management, Offshore Standby Vessel, Advanced Scaffolding, National Pool Lifeguard qualification and many others. Around 60 per cent of the people who take up a skills grant from CASE get a job within months."

Two people who have benefited from individual skills development grants from CASE are Sheila Sutherland and Sheila Lorimer.

Sheila Sutherland took a distance learning course from Nottingham College to equip herself with the necessary technical skills to set up a soft furnishings and curtain making service in East Sutherland.

Sheila had previously been employed in a similar industry but after being made redundant she decided to get the necessary training to allow her to set up her own business advising and supplying soft furnishings or curtains to private householders as well as hotels, lodges etc.

Mrs Sutherland said: "Getting the grant from CASE for the training was a great boost, it really helped increase my confidence and gave me the encouragement I needed to set up my own business."

Sheila Lorimer previously worked as a massage therapist in the London area and after moving to Brora in Sutherland she set up a part time business offering a range of treatments.

Sheila has now become an established practitioner and has built a regular client base. She is fully trained and holds qualifications from the International Guild of Professional Practitioners and the Scottish Massage Therapist Organisation. She received an individual skills grant to undertake additional training to enhance her skills and the services she offers.

Mrs Lorimer said: "I recommend to anyone who feels they need a change of direction or who wants to take their hobby and turn it into a paying job to talk to CASE - getting the appropriate training can make the world of difference."

Both women have also benefited from CASE's business start up programme which provides support and financial assistance by providing a regular income over the first 12 months of trading - traditionally the hardest time for a fledgling company.

For more information on skills grants contact Donna on 01847 805213, email donna.booth@hient.co.uk  or visit www.hie.co.uk/case/skills_grants.htm