PROBLEMS of recruiting staff with relevant skills in East Lancashire are set to be eased with a £350,000 boost for the region.

More than half of East Lancashire employers have problems finding staff who are equipped to do the job.

And Blackburn medical products firm Promedics cited the difficulty of recruiting the right staff as a factor in its decision to relocate to Scotland.

But now a £350,000 injection has been secured by Business Link Lancashire for an innovative programme, Raising Intermediate Skills in the Workplace.

The programme aims to drive up business performance and competitiveness by improving the skills of supervisors, team leaders or junior managers up to NVQ Level 3 within local organisations.

It is hoped this will create a more flexible, dynamic workforce and ensure the

100,000-plus extra vacancies expected in the region within a decade can be filled by suitably skilled workers.

The project is funded through the European Social Fund and co-financed by the Learning Skills Council Lancashire.

It will provide free support to improve the performance of small and medium sized businesses.

Six sectors of Lancashire's economy are being targeted for support; manufacturing, engineering, aerospace, construction, retail and tourism.

The support will include a review of training needs, producing personal development plans for employees and identifying relevant training provision.

Clive Memmott, chief executive of Business Link Lancashire, said: "Research tells us 123,000 new jobs will be created across the region in the next 10 years, many requiring higher level skills."

Steve Palmer, executive director of the Learning and Skills Council in Lancashire, said: "It's excellent news.

Projects such as Raising Intermediate Skills in the Workplace are high on the agenda of the LSC, and will have a significant impact."

Business Link is working in partnership with East Lancashire based Elevate to raise the skills of the construction industry in Lancashire through the project.

For details of the Raising Intermediate Skills in the Workplace project, call Business Link Lancashire on 0845 600 9006.