West End Training

Tailor-made training Is this the solution to training for small businesses?

It has been proved in research that small businesses across the UK invest a substantially smaller degree of money in training than their larger counterparts. Surveys have indicated that whilst 88% of large firms provide their employees with at least one day’s training every year, only 40% of small firms do the same. This is often not because of a lack of inclination, but because of a severe lack of provision for the small business in the training market. Within the training market, small businesses are very often abandoned by the wayside in satisfying their needs.

So why do so few small businesses train? Many of the reasons include those suggested in the article ‘Why Train?’: lack of time, too expensive, too much hassle. In the small business some of these acquire an even greater potency. Time is arguably more precious in the small business, as with a smaller number of employees it is harder to spare their essential work. Money for training is not necessarily as forthcoming – and training costs are much harder to cover by small businesses with smaller cash flows. The overall hassle of training often makes it seem a completely unfeasible option.

However, the small business has a further objection when it comes to training that does not apply to the large firm: relevance of training. With the large firm playing such a large part in the training market, it is often that training is geared more specifically for this type of firm. Issues are dealt with in the manner they occur within large firms, of little relevance to employees of small firms. It is understandable why – employees of large firms are clearly far more likely to go on training courses, as the figures suggest.

Nevertheless, the small business owner is being put off training by the very thing that is unlikely to change. As well as the slant of the content being wrong, its specificity is also wrong. Small businesses do not have vast funds available for training, so if they do decide to invest, they do not want training on only one skill. Certainly a bit of assertiveness training would be useful, but not a whole day dedicated to it. In a large firm employees concentrate on a limited area, and require a set number of skills, small businesses require their staff to undertake a wide variety of tasks, and have a wide skills base. They need the ability to multi-task and do each others jobs if necessary, so any type of training must be general. It needs to take into account this need for multi-skill training. Such ‘multi-skill’ training courses simply do not exist.

Or do they? With the growth of ‘tailor-made’ solutions to training, the potential for such multi-skill training has become a reality. Instead of dedicating a whole day to assertiveness training, tailor-made training allows the employer to construct a training programme to suit the needs of their business. Assertiveness can form part of it, with additional time spent on communication skills, leadership, teamwork and sales. The mix is entirely in the hands of the employer – whatever he feels his staff specifically need he can include.

The benefits of tailor made training do not just stop here for the small business. As tailor-made training courses are structured to the skills requirements of particular businesses, so is the content. For instance, with communication skills, a tailor-made solution will take into account the fact that communication between colleagues is more likely to be face-to-face than via a telephone, email, or by memo.

Tailor-made training is done on site, and so does not completely remove employees from their workplace. They are still on the premises, and do not have expensive travelling costs to cover. If a day is too long to dedicate to training all at once, a tailor-made solution can work within the time that is available. They do not specify that employees must be in a certain place at a certain time, but gives the employer the flexibility to dictate his terms.

However, the point still remains about the cost. Certainly training is an investment, as previously discussed in ‘Why Train?’, but cost is still a difficult hurdle to overcome for the small business. Tailor-made solutions are far more flexible in their cost, generally not charging per delegate, but instead for the time of the company. This gives a greater flexibility for the employer to control his training costs.

Training is without a doubt far more difficult to implement in small businesses, but its necessity remains. In many ways, it is more necessary: the small business requires anything possible to stand out from its larger rivals. It needs to match, if not better, the service offered. With a tailor-made solution to training the possibility of raising that 40% training average becomes distinctly more possible.

For over 25 years, West End Training has built its business around tailor-made training where the training can work out cheaper than just ‘sending people on a course’ and because we work with the client in structuring the content, you are confident that the relevance is 100% as well.