This £1.7m project is targeting future women leaders in the Leeds City Region

A new skills programme has launched a major recruitment drive to build the next generation of women leaders in the Leeds City Region.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 11:45 am
Leeds city centre. Picture: Adobe Stock

Women Empowered Through Coaching and Networking (#WECAN) is a three-year, £1.7m project supporting women to build on their leadership skills, capabilities and opportunities.

Led by Leeds Beckett University and working in partnership with Edge Hill University and SEYH (Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber), #WECAN is welcoming applications from women in the Leeds City Region who are either self-employed, or working for a Small or Medium Enterprise (SME) or social enterprise.

#WECAN offers funded support and training to businesses and their women employees to help their progress into and within leadership roles.

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The programme works to identify participants’ existing skills, current barriers, and future opportunities in order to create an individual plan.

The project is funded through the European Social Fund with support from the Department of Work and Pensions and aims to improve outcomes for SMEs in the region through collaborative working and knowledge exchange, increasing productivity and boosting the local economy.

#WECAN is led by a team of academics and professional development specialists from the Leadership Centre within Leeds Business School, alongside academics at Edge Hill University.

Dr Martina Topic, senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and #WECAN research lead said: “There is something for every woman in the project, whether becoming a coach, obtaining a leadership certificate or upskilling through sessions improving technical and promotional skills, communication, etc.

“#WECAN does not discriminate and we invite women of all origins and all career aspirations to explore the project and take on this unique opportunity.”

Prof George Lodorfos, dean of Leeds Business School, said: “At Leeds Business School we recognise the incredibly important role which small and medium-sized enterprises play in the Leeds City Region and the significant contribution they make.”

He added: “We are committed to supporting SMEs across the region to sustainably scale-up and grow, and we truly believe that their resilience and growth can be enhanced by maximising the untapped potential of women in leadership positions.”

Prof Anastasia Konstantopoulou, associate dean for learning and teaching in the faculty of arts and sciences at Edge Hill University, added: “#WECAN presents a unique opportunity for SMEs in the Leeds City Region to tap into and maximise the potential of their female employees by enhancing their professional roles and supporting them in their career progression.

“We’re very excited to now be launching recruitment for the project and to welcome the first cohort of talented women from across the region who want to unlock their potential.

“Edge Hill University has a long and proud history of championing and empowering women, which can be traced back to our origins as the first non-denominational teacher training college for women in England.”

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