New Skills

Businesses can access a pipeline of skilled workers – and retrain or upskill their own staff – by engaging with higher education providers such as colleges and universities.

Higher education providers help people to gain higher level skills which strengthen the employment prospects for young people progressing from compulsory education, employees progressing or changing their careers, and the unemployed. A summary of qualifications and a glossary of terms are on our How to engage with Higher Education providers page.

We have summarised the opportunities for employers to access skills training opportunities, including ‘off the shelf’ and bespoke training solutions.

By building a relationship with a higher education provider, an employer can recruit new staff, develop their workforce, contribute to curriculum developments, and provide invaluable work-based learning insights and experiences for the next generation.

Workforce development

West Yorkshire benefits from a wide variety of higher education providers, each with a different character and distinct offer.

Take a look at the offer for workforce development from our members:

Bradford College: Training your workforce

University of Bradford: Continuing professional development

Calderdale College: Skills and workforce development

University of Huddersfield: Skilled people and training

Kirklees College: Partnership opportunities

Leeds Beckett University: Short courses and CPD

Leeds City College: Courses for business

Leeds College of Building: Adult part-time courses

University of Leeds: Continued professional development

Wakefield College: Information for employers

Discuss your longer-term goals with a HE provider to identify a wider range of opportunities.

The information below provides a summary of the types of opportunities available.

Training solutions and continued professional development

You can access a variety of training solutions, delivered in a range of formats including: 

  • At a local higher education provider’s venue or campus 
  • Within your business 
  • Online 
  • A mixture of the above 

Training solutions can be accessed individually, by groups of peers from one employer, or as a community of learners from different employers.  


Short courses provide a bite-sized training solution. This may be a standalone course, part of a series, or a module taken from a longer programme. Short courses can be delivered in a day or less, across a number of days, online or within a classroom. Bespoke solutions may be created to respond to a specific employer need.


Taster sessions introduce a longer programme of study or apprenticeship for employers to understand what the course offers, as well as the practicalities of participation. Taster sessions might be advertised by the provider, or a bespoke session might be developed for your needs.


Employers can offer existing staff the opportunity to take up an apprenticeships, including higher and degree apprenticeships. See a list of higher and degree apprenticeship programmes available in West Yorkshire.

Our Apprenticeship FAQs provide essential information to help employers get started in recruiting higher or degree apprentices. The apprenticeship route blends ‘on the job’ and ‘off the job’ training to enable an individual to develop within a role. Government subsidies are available.

Higher Education courses

Higher education qualifications are offered by universities and by colleges with higher education provision. See our summary of higher education qualifications to see how learners can progress between different qualification levels.

As well as recruiting graduates, employers can sponsor their existing staff to take a higher education degree course. Learners can study full- or part-time and through in-person, online, or through a blended learning route.

Below we list the options of HE courses that employers can sponsor employers to undertake. See our New Talent page for more information about the different ways employers can engage with current students.

Foundation Degrees

Foundation degrees provide a bridge between further and higher education courses. These sit below undergraduate degree level but usually offer a route into an undergraduate degree programme. Many courses have a vocational focus.

Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diploma

A Higher National Certificate (HNC) is equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree. A Higher National Diploma (HND) is equivalent to the first two years. These qualifications often have an occupational focus.

Undergraduate degrees

A Bachelor’s or Honours degree is the most common type of undergraduate degree, sometimes referred to as an ‘undergraduate’ or ‘first’ degree. Types of Bachelor’s degree include:

  • Bachelor of Arts – BA (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Science – BSc (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Engineering – BEng (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Laws – LLB (Hons)

Postgraduate diploma/certificate

These routes provide a shorter postgraduate study. Many of these routes have a vocational focus. As they’re shorter than a full Masters degree, they are sometimes easier to fit around work commitments. An honour’s degree or equivalent experience is required to progress onto this level of study.

Masters degrees

An honour’s degree or equivalent experience is required to progress onto Masters level study. This provides the opportunity to extend skills, demonstrate expertise and to progress a research project. Masters degrees titles include:

  • Master of Arts – MA
  • Master of Science – MSc
  • Master of Engineering – MEng
  • Master of Research – MRes
  • Master of Laws – LLM

A Masters in Business Administration is an internationally recognised degree to advance business and management skills.

Executive education

Executive Education is a type of specialist education for businesses, usually delivered by a Business department, school or faculty. It’s often targeted at Executive, Director or senior management level, with a leadership and management focus.

Executive Education – also called Ex.Ed or Exec. Ed. – can include apprenticeships, postgraduate study, short courses, workshops, masterclasses, forums, professional networks, access to business start-up support and expert consultants.

University of Bradford: Help to Grow Management Scheme

Calderdale College: Rise Resilience Hub

Leeds Beckett University: Leadership Centre

Leeds Trinity University: Ad:Venture business support programme

University of Leeds: Executive education and Masters

Some elements may be targeted at small and medium businesses (SMEs) or micro businesses, and there may be funding available to support smaller organisations.

Funded programmes

Higher education providers are sometimes funded to deliver training programmes – often responding to a specific skills and training priority.

These programmes are funded by central, regional or local government or other external agencies and organisations and will often provide free or subsidised training opportunities.

Here is a selection of funded skills programmes currently on offer through Higher Education providers in West Yorkshire: