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Government to Unveil Package of Help for Small Businesses

I was delighted to hear that The Government has pledged money to further assist small businesses in the development of their staff.

In my experience organisations that invest in their staff skills set ultimately benefit from improved staff moral resulting in increased individual and business performance.

A package of measures to help small businesses cope as the economic downturn begins to bite will be unveiled by ministers.

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
21 Oct 2008

They include £350 million in funding for training and investment, following research showing that businesses which put money into expanding staff skills are better equipped to survive a recession.

The rules and regulations governing the take-up of Government grants are being relaxed, to enable most companies with up to 250 members of staff to take advantage of the training package.

The training measures are to be announced by John Denham, the Skills Secretary. He told The Daily Telegraph: “Small businesses are an important engine of our economy and we must make sure that we support them during tough economic times.”

“We are overhauling the whole training system to make sure that they can get help with training their staff with the very minimum of bureaucracy.”

“We know that firms which invest in skills do better, which is why we will be urging small businesses to take up this offer from government.”

The proposals include a package of support, funded from the existing workplace-based Train to Gain budget, to help small firms build skills.

There will be a focus on short courses, and the current requirement for Government-funded training to be available only if the programme ends in a qualification is being scrapped.
Instead, staff will be steered towards “bite-sized chunk” modules which include an emphasis on improving their skills, productivity and risk management.

In a further bid to cut bureaucracy and delay, further education colleges and centres will be encouraged to offer courses in the workplace, with rules relaxed to allow, for example, neighbouring retailers on a business park to pool their resources to pay for training where they work.

Current rules limiting access to state-funded leadership and management courses to companies with more than 10 employees are also being set aside, with firms employing more than five staff members also now eligible. Managers will be able to send all staff on courses which are currently restricted to those who do not have the equivalent of five GCSEs.

And firms are to be invited to take part in a free “skills health check” and “training audit,” to find out which courses could help their business. The package will be accompanied by an advertising campaigning advising small businesses that help is available through the economic downturn.
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