SMEs seek alternative staff training methods

Small businesses are sourcing affordable training alternatives in order to sidestep steep staff development costs, new research has revealed.

According to the findings of the latest training and skills member panel survey by the Forum of Private Business (FPB), more than one in five companies (22 per cent) use guides and handbooks, while other popular alternatives include supplier training (48 per cent) and public sector training provided by bodies such as colleges or local authorities (41 per cent).

Further training means include services from trusted advisers such as accountants (38 per cent), personal coaching and mentoring (34 per cent), online training services (28 per cent), ‘DIY’ training including industry tips (24 per cent) and analysing competitors (14 per cent). Just 3 per cent use self-help videos.

While 32 per cent of panellists believe the overall training and skills environment has improved recently, compared to the 19 per cent who think it has deteriorated, costs are seen as the biggest barrier to providing training for employees, with 61 per cent of panellists reporting this.

In all, 40 per cent say the availability of training is a barrier, 28 per cent indicate quality of courses as an issue and 22 per cent report that time needed for training is an impediment.

FPB chief executive Phil Orford says, ‘For the sake of small businesses and the economy, it is important that small businesses are able to access the right training for their staff at the right price.  Unfortunately, while there have been some improvements recently, this is often not the case at present.

‘But entrepreneurs are finding ways to provide the skills training their staff need that are more affordable than traditional routes such as expensive courses. This is particularly relevant given the training and guidance required in order to negotiate the minefield of red tape.’

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