Last updated: 17.02.14

Training staff a win-win for small enterprises

Ensuring that staff receive the right training to excel at their jobs is fundamental to the success of small businesses. This is in no doubt. But where there is more debate is in the issue of how best to provide this training.

The argument for using digital learning resources where possible has never been stronger. At Virtual College, we offer some 300 different vocational courses, which have been designed in a way that makes them easy for small businesses to apply to their trainees across a number of different sectors.

Fears persist over the increasing skills gap in the UK workforce and just this month, labour peer Lord Adonis highlights this issue as one of the most significant barriers to business growth in the country.

But it is not a problem that is specific to the UK and in this, and other countries, small enterprises are coming up with novel approaches to overcome the danger. In New Zealand, several small companies have banded together to highlight the merits of proper staff training – whether that's through classroom-based courses or online resources.

According to Darren Parlato, owner of the only chartered accounting practice in the town of Foxton, New Zealand, up-skilling his one and only member of staff has added significant value to his business. He told the New Zealand Herald that it has also helped to improve the perception of his company among existing and potential clients, boosting his brand appeal – something that any business owner will know is absolutely vital to success.

Mr Parlato chose a formal training path for his office manager Stella Vockins, but the key is to choose the approach that is right for your particular organisation, says Professor Jane Parker, of Massey University's School of Management.

She explains to the newspaper that the more informal HR environment in most small and medium-sized enterprises makes them less likely to choose formal training programmes than their corporate peers.

And as Mr Parlato explains, what is good for your staff is usually good for your company. "Even though you're helping build and advance their career prospects with the risk they may leave, they're actually far more likely to leave if you don't support their growth," he says.