Small equals reluctant

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
The scale of the challenge - how to get more small and medium-sized businesses to benefit from learndirect - was spelled out starkly in the public accounts committee report in March. The report urged training companies to work with specific sectors and employers to whet appetites.

A review on how courses can be made more suitable for business was also called for. Ufi, it concluded, needed to work with sector skills councils and the Small Business Service to extend its reach.

This is not easy territory. Big-hitting companies, with training and human resources departments, realise it's imperative to invest in staff development, but small firms can all too often let employee development slip off the agenda.

The experience of Stanley's, a family business in Birmingham's jewellery quarter, is instructive. Alison Stanley, the managing director, encouraged staff to sign up for learndirect computer courses, after a local training company called, spelling out what was on offer and how it could boost business efficiency. "It was good that they came to us and very helpful in getting people used to computers," says Ms Stanley, who employs 28 people.

"Our experience was very good," she says."It was fantastic to give people the chance to learn computer basics and more."

But, she says, her business is not using learndirect anymore, although some employees might be doing so in their own time. "The trouble is we are working flat out here. You've got to grab any contract you can at the moment."

Recently, the same training company asked if any Stanley staff would be interested in taking an NVQ in customer care. "It might well pay off for us," Ms Stanley agrees. "But, though it might well be a good idea, we can't really afford the time for it."

Convincing Britain's small businesses to make use of learndirect will not be a walkover. The strategy stands the best chance if training companies get across the message that investing in staff can boost profits and productivity.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now