More than £4 million has been made available by the West Midlands Learning and Skills Council to train employees in lean business improvement techniques to improve efficiency and profitability.
SMEs with up to 250 employees could receive the equivalent of up to £300,000 worth of training free and see staff gain NVQ qualifications through the scheme spearheaded by Skills4Auto, the non-profit organisation committed to developing and expanding skill levels.
It has already helped 30 general and specialist engineering companies from throughout the region.
They include ERI, the Oldbury-based shop-fitting manufacturer whose need to improve flow of information in its administrative activities was considered equally important as materials flow on the shop floor.
Operations director Clive Poyner said: "We have involved staff from throughout the business resulting in them becoming much more aware of what can be done to improve processes in the workplace as well as upgrading their skills.
"Applying lean principals to our business is crucial to us remaining competitive."
Bryan McGinity, managing director of Midlands-based Skills4Auto, said: "This initiative offers a win-win situation for both employees and employers.
"We are now actively seeking to sign up a second wave of companies and are supporting this with a series of breakfast seminars throughout the region which all are welcome to attend."