Westmorland and Furness
A great place to live, work and thrive

Talent and Skills

in Westmorland and Furness, Cumbria


Apprenticeship reforms

From 1st April 2024 the government will pay the full cost of apprenticeships in small businesses for anyone up to the age of 21, reducing costs and burdens for businesses and delivering more opportunities for young people to kick start their careers. In addition, the government will be raising the threshold for the number of people that work in a SME (small- to medium-enterprises) from 250 to 500.

More information on hiring an apprentice, including details on funding, can be found here: Hire an apprentice (

Becoming an apprentice

Apprenticeship’s can be an exciting and rewarding career path that combines training and study with real work. Apprentices receive training that is recognised and valued by employers throughout the UK. As well as learning and applying new skills in a real work environment, apprentices are also employees so earn a salary too.

An apprenticeship is not just for school leavers, they’re for everyone who is:

  • aged 16 or over
  • not in full-time education
  • living in England (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland deliver their own apprenticeship programmes)

There are different levels of apprenticeships, and for each you would need different qualifications to apply, and receive different qualifications for completing them.

  • Intermediate apprenticeship: an intermediate apprenticeship is a Level 2 qualification equivalent to a GCSE qualification
  • Advance apprenticeship: an advanced apprenticeship is a Level 3 qualification equivalent to an A-Level qualification
  • Higher apprenticeship: a higher apprenticeship is a Level 4, 5, 6 and 7 qualification equivalent to a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or above. If you do not already have GCSEs in English and maths, you generally need to commit to taking Functional Skills alongside the apprenticeship. Some employers may also want people with relevant qualifications, such as A-Level science for a lab-based apprenticeship.
  • Degree apprenticeship: a degree apprenticeship is Level 6 and 7 qualification equivalent to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Like higher apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships may require specific requirements, which may include GCSE English and maths, as well as having Level 3 qualifications (A-Levels, BTEC, NVQ, or an advanced apprenticeship), and have relevant work experience.

Before applying you should also consider that as an apprentice you’ll have to:

  • balance a job with studying and your home life
  • work under supervision and guidance
  • complete regular assessments
  • usually train for one specific role

More information on apprenticeships, including advice on how to apply, can be found here: Become an apprentice (

Skills & Upskilling

Brathay Trust – Elevate

Support for young people aged 12-16 (school years 8, 9 and 10, with Year 7 students considered in the summer term) who are becoming disengaged from the community; disaffected from education; failing to attend school and at risk of – or subject to – exclusion. A referral-based programme, Elevate focuses on young people’s individual strengths to inspire participants to realise their potential, rise aspirations and promote positive engagement within the community. A 12-week early intervention programme, Elevate is a combination of 1:1 support and powerful group experience days that have been accredited by AQA Unit Awards. Elevate has been running in Barrow-in-Furness for the last two years, but is now delivered in in the South Lakes area and Barrow-in-Furness.

This project received £77,730 from Westmorland and Furness Council and the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Adult Learning Cumbria – Multiply

Multiply is a selection of free courses to help you improve your maths skills. It can help you in your everyday life, from managing your finances or helping your children with their homework. It can also help you get a new job or study for further qualifications.

Westmorland and Furness Council has commissioned 12 partners to deliver Multiply across Cumbria. These include further education colleges, independent training providers, charities and employability support organisations. The Adult Learning Service within the council is also a partner and is delivering Multiply interventions across Cumbria.

Adult Learning Cumbria – Employment Support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Westmorland and Furness

A Westmorland and Furness Council project to improve community cohesion and integration of asylum seekers and refugees in Barrow by providing English language skills provision to help them progress to employment/volunteering, further learning, integrate into communities, and understand cultural differences.

This project received up to £92,657 from Westmorland and Furness Council and the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Groundwork NE & Cumbria – Green Doctor

Free and impartial, Green Doctor offers advice and support to tackle fuel poverty and the cost-of-living crisis. Trained energy advisors are available to help the most vulnerable save energy, money and maximise their incomes, and staff community energy advice events, as well as provide Money Mentor Advice. Free services offered by Green Doctor include:

  • Identifying causes of heat loss in your home
  • Helping identify and tackle damp or mould problems
  • Offering useful tips for saving energy and water whilst ensuring your home stays safe and comfortable
  • Installing small energy and water efficiency measures, such as draft excluders
  • Supporting you to switch energy providers to save money
  • Supporting you to access other support, such as emergency heating, government subsidies or grants, advice on energy or water debt.

This project received up to £198,107 from Westmorland and Furness Council and the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Steps into Work

Inspira – The Key

An established employability programme for economically inactive adults. The Key addresses several interlinked issues affecting the local labour market and the economic prospects of residents. It includes collaboration with local employers and provides participants with practical support to boost their employability and help them move quickly into jobs.

This project received up to £615,066 from Westmorland and Furness Council and the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.


Cumbria Tourism – Welcome to Work in the Visitor Economy

Addressing labour shortages in the visitor economy by linking people looking for work with tourism businesses. Focussing on training for businesses on the Disability Confident scheme and working with partners like DWP and People First to help people with disabilities to access the labour market. Matchmaking people with vacancies through the Tourism Talent Hub, and helping those who don’t know what they want to do to access employment while they decide rather than falling out of the system.

This project received £132,701 from Westmorland and Furness Council and the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.


Cumbria CVS – This is Us

A collaborative, cross sector project, This is Us works with organisations and individuals to improve volunteering opportunities across Westmorland and Furness. Through online and face-to-face training, workshops and networking opportunities, This is Us delivers:

  • Volunteer development workshops
  • Volunteer opportunity days
  • Business planning and sustainability support
  • Governance and trustee training
  • Fundraising support and funding searches
  • Sessions with organisations to develop new volunteering roles
  • 1:1 sessions working on organisational needs

This project received up to £259,151 from Westmorland and Furness Council and the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.


The schools, colleges and universities in and around Westmorland & Furness are noted for their specialist programme and close ties with local employers. In Barrow-in-Furness both the University of Cumbria and Furness College enjoy a strong partnership with BAE Systems, whilst Kendal College is a key participant in supporting the Westmorland and Furness economy alongside other stakeholders. But don’t just take our word for it, see for yourselves and explore the opportunities available.

Furness College – Barrow-based Further Education college situated over two campuses: Channelside Campus offering vocational courses, apprenticeships, T-Levels and Higher Education courses; and the Sixth Form Campus on Rating Lane offering A-Level courses, post-19 education and adult learning.

Kendal College – Kendal-based Further Education college situated over three campuses (Milnthorpe Road Campus, Arts & Media Campus, and Westmorland Campus) offering A-levels, T-Levels, apprenticeships, adult learning, distance, learning vocational, and GCSE/Functional Skills English and maths

University of Cumbria – a multi-campus university, the University of Cumbria is home to over 14,000 students. Including Ambleside, Carlisle, Lancaster, London, and Barrow-in-Furness, the university’s historic campuses are surrounded by natural beauty, vibrant student communities and endless career opportunities. In 2024/25 the university will open the Barrow Learning Quarter adjacent to the BAE Systems Submarine Academy for Skills and Knowledge site on Barrow Island. The campus will deliver a range of degree-level programmes for learners ranging from digital and cyber security to project management and supply chain and logistics.

Lancaster University – consistently placed in the top 15 in the three major UK university league tables, Lancaster University home to nine colleges overall, eight for undergraduate students and one for postgraduates, each providing access to wellbeing professionals, events and social activities, trips and excursions, and social spaces. The university’s main campus, at Bailrigg, south of Lancaster, occupies a beautiful 560-acre parkland has the feel of a small town with banks, shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, a pre-school centre and health services.

Newton Rigg Ltd – Penrith-based, independent organisation offering specialist agricultural, arboricultural and horticultural education.

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Lancaster University
Kendal College
Furness College
University of Cumbria