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North East Ambition

Helping businesses train their workforce and fill skills gaps

In partnership with

Funded by

The Programme

Funding for this programme has now ended. We were able to support 700 businesses and over 800 individuals with their skills needs in the North East.

North East Ambition is a programme of free support for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in the North East of England, designed to ensure local businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities available to them to develop and upskill their workforce.

The programme, which is part funded by the European Social Fund, is delivered by Education Development Trust in partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Each business that engages in the programme will be supported by a dedicated Skills Facilitator, who will work with the business to determine their specific requirements and develop a bespoke plan to support them in addressing current and future skills gaps. 

Find out about our impact

Head over to the North East Local Enterprise Partneship's website to find out more about North East Ambition and the programme's impact on the region.

Find out more

Early Connect

Early Connect is a pilot continuation of North East Ambition being delivered in partnership between the Department for Education and UCAS. The programme is aiming to support more young people onto apprenticeships, and to make it easier for employers to find apprentices in the North East.

Learn about Early Connect

What we offer

Our team of Skills Facilitators provide a free, impartial consultancy service to SMEs in the North East, helping them to understand their skills needs and how to grow their business.

Finding a way through the skills landscape can be overwhelming and time consuming. Our team is available to help local businesses navigate this landscape, identifying the skills needs, training and finance options that will help them grow.

Our Skills Facilitators work with businesses to:

  • Understand their skills needs and develop a bespoke action plan
  • Identify the most appropriate skills and employment programmes to support them in hiring new recruits or upskilling their current workforce
  • Find specific training courses and a trusted training provider
  • Advise on available funding options
  • Grow their networks and connect with other local businesses
  • Build partnerships with schools and colleges, enabling access to future talent.
Benefits of this programme

  • Recruit smarter
  • Invest in training
  • Achieve business goals
  • Access business support advice, including marketing, human resources, or financial management

Who can apply to the programme?

The North East Ambition programme is available to SMEs based in the North East. To be eligible, business must meet the following criteria:

Be classified as an SME

A small or medium-sized enterprise with fewer than 250 employees. A turnover of less than €50 million, or a balance sheet total of less than €43 million.

Have not received more than €200,000 of De Minimis State Aid in the last 3 years

This limit applies specifically to De Minimis Aid and not to aid granted under any other approved State Aid schemes such as the GBER (General Block Exemption Regulation).

If the applicant business declares it has already received €200,000 of De Minimis Aid within the relevant period, or if the grant of aid under North East Ambition would take them over the €200,000 limit, they would not be eligible for support.

Be based in a North East LEP area

These include Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham.

Useful information


Once you’ve finished your journey with us, we’d be grateful if you could let us know your thoughts on the support you’ve received.
You can feedback on your Skills Facilitator, as well as your overall experience on the programme. Click here to access a short form that only takes 4-5 minutes to complete.

Want to help raise awareness of our support while showcasing your business? Let us know, and we’d be happy to spotlight your story on our website and social channels.


We strive to give all our customers on the NEA programme a high level of service. If you feel this has not been the case, you can make a formal written or verbal complaint. We acknowledge all complaints within 3 working days of receipt. Your complaint will be fully investigated and responded to within 7 working days of acknowledging receipt.

Anti-fraud and whistleblowing

The North East Ambition programme is committed to high ethical and moral standards in the conduct of all its activities and complies with Education Development Trust’s robust code of conduct and whistleblowing measures to eradicate unethical business practices including
bribery, fraud and corruption. If you have any concerns in this regard, please contact us here.

Find out more

Stay up to date with the programme by signing up to our newsletter and events using the links below:


Join our quarterly newsletter to get updates around current opportunities for small businesses in the North East here


Take a look at the range of free skills events that North East Ambition regularly run here

Got a question?

If you would like to find out more about the North East Ambition programme, or have queries not covered here, please do get in touch with the team and we will be happy to help.

Contact us