Training support for small businesses

Denham announces £350m to support small businesses

Skills Secretary John Denham announced that small businesses will be the focus of £350 million of Government funds to help them train their staff. The Government’s approach will be reshaped and money will be available to deliver a new package of support to help small businesses get through the tougher economic climate by building the skills and expertise of their workers.

It will deliver funding for training, with the minimum level of bureaucracy or delay. This will be for subjects such as business improvement techniques or leadership and management, which are proven to provide skills to increase the productivity of individuals and firms. John Denham said:
“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 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 than those that don’t, which is why we will be urging small businesses to take up this offer from Government.”

The funding to support training will be drawn from the Government’s ‘Train to Gain’ programme – the scheme that supports and subsidises staff training. Funding for the programme is planned to rise to £1 billion by 2010-11. In allocating the planned increase in spending on this programme over the next two years, the Government will give top priority to meeting demand from small businesses in the private sector (those with up to 250 employees).

The key elements of the £350m Train to Gain package are:

  • Relaxing the rules to allow funding for “bite-sized chunks” – small units or modules of qualifications in subjects known to be important to SMEs, such as business improvement, team-working, customer service, and risk management;
  • Help for groups of SMEs located together in business parks so that they can increase their purchasing power and share resources to support the training of local SME staff;
  • Extending DIUS’s successful leadership and management programme so that more SMEs can benefit from it, including in companies with just 5-10 workers;
  • Relaxing the rules to allow workers to get training up to level 2 even if they already have a previous qualification at this level; and more funding for level 3 training;
  • Brokers to offer tried and tested skills diagnostics and audits so companies can have their training needs more accurately identified; and point SMEs to the right solutions from the most appropriate providers;
  • A new communications campaign to begin next month to underline the benefits of up-skilling and re-skilling and the breadth of the support on offer from Government.

This existed before, but the major beneficial changes are the bite-size learning and the removal of the requirement for accredited courses