Skills Minister John Hayes recently unveiled a £20 million Government leadership and management development grant available for nearly 13,000 SMEs across the UK.
Matched funds of £1,000 are available to be spent on leadership training and coaching that will help the firm grow, improve productivity and competitiveness. To see the government acknowledging the importance of training and further education is a start, but to truly utilise the benefits of this grant, businesses need to learn what type of training will work best for them and how educating staff can completely rejuvenate their business.
The Importance of Training
Training plays an essential role in developing a highly skilled and productive workforce. The impact and overall benefit of having skilled staff that retain and implement their training can be evaluated by quantifiable means. Conservative estimates indicate that an individual's productivity levels can increase by eight per cent if they can apply their training to their role.
That equates to 160 hours of additional output, or roughly 20 days per year. Imagine the overall value of every employee adding 160 hours of informed, experienced work to your business. The added benefit to your business would be invaluable. The key to this success is employee retention, giving employees the skills and work environment they need to take what they have learned and actually implement the information. Businesses can assist this by providing follow-up advice or supplemental learning following the initial training session. Another key factor in maximising the employee's time away from their desk, is to only include pertinent information in the training, specifically tailored to their needs.
What type of training best fits your business?
For most SMEs three key factors come into play when discussing training options - cost, time required and benefits received. Businesses need to keep these factors in the forefront of their minds when deciding what type of training and further education best suits the business' needs. Most companies eligible for this grant will indeed take advantage of it, but it is important to make sure that you maximise the benefits. This is accomplished by choosing the most effective training method for your business.
Two main options for training include traditional classroom training and e-learning options. Classroom learning requires taking a predetermined block of time away from the office, which many SMEs can ill afford. However it can be more suitable for large groups who require the same information from a training session. Scheduling a training day or half day is costly and also limits the amount of time employees can spend with informative resources. On the other hand, e-learning provides more flexibility with scheduling, employees can find 30 minutes or an hour to spend on a specific lesson or easily find information on a specific topic. These resources are available whenever the employee finds them most useful to dip in and out of learning.
Determining which type of training will benefit your business and the needs of your staff the most is absolutely essential. It is important to understand that your employees will have a broad range of training requirements and varied learning styles. By being sensitive to these needs and attempting to cater to individualised requirements, the business will reap the benefits of happy, knowledgeable and well-trained employees.
Maximise your success
First of all, taking advantage of this government grant is a step in the right direction. In addition to matching funds, the grant includes free consultation with an expert advisor before the training commences, as well as a free follow up to discuss the effect of the training and any further skills required. Maintaining periodic training throughout the year and supplementing learning with resources in the workplace will give employees an additional boost and help with retention rates. By utilising this grant, business' can uncover hidden talents within their current workforce and boost morale amongst their staff.
In turn, the direct and immediate benefits will be felt by the business itself, in higher customer service rates and overall a more knowledgeable work staff. Employees will feel more valued, be better at their jobs and help drive overall growth of your business.
Kevin Young, General Manager EMEA, SkillSoft
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