Skill Up Somerset

About us

About Skill Up Somerset

We are an Apprenticeship and Skills service to support the businesses and residents of Somerset – offering free, impartial advice and guidance.

Nikki Blackwell and Marie Howard are the Skill Up Apprenticeships and Skills Advisers.  They provide information and support for your business to help you understand the Apprenticeship and skills landscape, and can introduce you to local training provision.

If you would like to learn more about the government funding available for Apprentices or have other skills requirements, please contact Nikki or Marie.

ESF logo

The project received funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.

The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. 

For more information visit:

Meet us

Nikki Profile photo

Nikki Blackwell - South Somerset, Sedgemoor and Mendip

Nikki has lived in South Somerset with her Husband and children since 2016, and in the South West of England since 1989. 

Nikki has worked in the employment and education sectors since 1999, firstly with Jobcentre Plus, and then as a Job Coach and Employment Adviser for two private training providers, breaking down barriers to employment, improving employability skills and securing sustainable employment through the delivery of various Government back to work programmes.

She most recently she worked for a large FE college in Somerset as an Apprenticeship Recruitment Adviser where her passion for Apprenticeships began, offering advice and support to students and to small and large businesses on Apprenticeship programmes, funding and recruitment.

South Somerset, Sedgemoor and Mendip
Nikki Blackwell
07857 670806

Marie Howard - Taunton and WEst somerset

Marie was born in Somerset and has lived in West Somerset with her Husband and two young children since 2009.

Marie has a degree in Counselling and is passionate about skills and training and has worked in the field in a number of roles supporting both learners, particularly apprentices and employers of all sizes and across all sectors.

Marie’s career started with a small (now large) training Provider and has involved spells with government bodies such as the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and National Apprenticeship Service and more latterly with the National Careers Service where as a Senior Partnership Manager she has been working across the West of England and in particular with Employers to use their experience and success through skills to inspire young people and more mature employees to improve their skills base and in so doing improve their career prospects.



All of your local training providers working together to ensure we have the highest quality training to meet then needs of our local community and employers skills needs.  The network comprises of 42 colleges and independent training providers.  

For more information on the training that the DSTPN offer, or support with engaging in other training provision outside of the Network Marie or Nikki will be able to support your Apprenticeship and Skills journey.