Free support from Business Link to help workforce development

23% of the region’s businesses would like to provide training for their staff but are not sure what they need, a survey by Business Link has found. With workforce development playing such a vital role in business success, now is the time for local businesses to benefit from free support that will outline the wealth of training options on offer.

Pat Smith, Chief Executive of Business Link in the East of England said: “Developing a skilled workforce can help your business thrive – choosing the right employee training sets it apart from the competition, and can increase productivity, staff motivation and profits.

“Making sense of the various training methods and schemes available can be a challenge, but support is at hand. Experienced Business Link skills advisers are available to discuss the training needs of a workforce, and provide information on funding and provision, no matter what the industry.”

The survey also discovered that 16% of small businesses in the region do not provide any training opportunities for their staff. With Apprenticeship Week (7th – 11th February) just around the corner, local businesses are being urged to take note of the variety of training options available and make the most of them to help their business thrive. Free and impartial advice from a Business Link skills adviser can help make these options clear – and customers are certainly seeing the benefit, with satisfaction levels of those working with skills advisers reaching 93.7%.

Business Link’s skills advisers offer employers a training needs review to help them identify the training objectives of their workforce, the options and funding available, and help prioritise staff training needs.

Taking on an apprentice is just one of the ways in which employers can increase productivity as a result of equipping them with the skills needed to build business success. In fact, research has found that 81% of businesses that took on an apprentice agreed that it made their workplace more productive*. Apprenticeships are a viable option for many businesses, with training up to three levels (Levels 2, 3, and Higher Level 4) currently available in more than 80 different industry sectors. Those wanting to take on an apprentice to fill a skills gap can discuss details of available support with a skills adviser – for example, apprenticeships are currently fully funded for 16- to 18-year-olds.

Advisers can also help identify other training and skills support on offer to local businesses, including free Business Link workshops, Skills for Life funding towards basic numeracy and literacy training, and Response to Redundancy funding to help with retraining.

To find out more about the skills support on offer to you, or to discuss the training needs of your business with an adviser, contact Business Link on 08457 17 16 15, or visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/east.

*Apprenticeships survey conducted by Populus on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council, February 2009.

Training tips from Business Link

1. Consider your own responsibilities when thinking about staff training. With the right training, your employees will be able to carry out tasks when you are not there, so you can take holidays, time off sick, or attend trade shows without worrying about how your staff are coping in your absence.

2. Ask your staff about their training preferences – they may have an idea about the skills they need to work on for their own professional development. Check www.bookevents.org, as you may well find workshop solutions to meet some of the needs identified.

3. Provide a proper induction for new members of staff, and remember that existing staff may need to be re-trained as new products or services are introduced.

4. Check existing knowledge: by finding out what level staff are currently trained to you can identify which skills gaps need the most attention.

5. Don’t overlook your own needs. Taking time out for training can pay for itself in terms of improved efficiency and putting in place new procedures to help your business grow.

6. Take the time to plan for workforce development. Training need not be expensive or time consuming – with some thought and planning you can build it into your week-by-week activities.

7. When planning any training it is important to remember that there are equal rights of access to training for all employees including part-time workers and disabled staff.

8. Ask Business Link for free, impartial and professional advice on training and skills. A Business Link Adviser can talk through your business objectives and help you focus on the right training pathways for your staff and for yourself.

About Business Link in the East of England:

  • Business Link… the place to go for business support
  • Business Link provides information, practical advice and support to help people to start, run or grow their businesses
  • Our clients fall in to two main categories:
  • Those running or working in established small and medium sized businesses
  • Those who want to start their own business
  • Both client groups can access independent, impartial and, in most instances, free help and support from Business Link in the form of:
  • Free one-to-one help from an experienced Adviser (established businesses) or Enterprise Awareness Manager (start-ups)
  • Workshops and briefings on a range of business subjects such as business planning, sales and marketing, legislation, developing people
  • Telephone and online support through our Regional Information and Intelligence centre
  • Business Link supports businesses and entrepreneurs in the 6 counties in the East of England: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk
  • Business Link is a government initiative to promote enterprise, funded in the East of England by the East of England Development Agency, who offer an extensive portfolio of business support in the region.
  • T 08457 17 16 15 E info@businesslinkeast.org.uk www.businesslink.gov.uk/east

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