09/01/2008 - 22:00

Flexibility the key at training centre

09/01/2008 - 22:00

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The state government is looking to open a Small Business Training Institute in Perth later this year to provide small business managers and owners with access to a one-stop-shop business training facility.

The state government is looking to open a Small Business Training Institute in Perth later this year to provide small business managers and owners with access to a one-stop-shop business training facility.

While the government is yet to release any details on the institute, WA Business News obtained a copy of the guidelines for a pilot institute, prepared by the Department of Education and Training in conjunction with West Coast TAFE.

The institute is expected to provide customised, just-in-time training and support for small business owners using innovative and flexible learning methods.

While other tertiary institutions, including Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, currently offer small business training programs, the institute will focus on addressing the gaps between what small business want, what training providers can deliver, and what business owners need to be able to know in order to remain competitive.

The proposal comes after an April 2007 audit of small business training in WA, commissioned by the State Training Board’s Small Business Advisory Committee, which found that despite the wide range of small business training programs available, the number of business owners accessing business-related training was low.

Two key reasons behind the low uptake of training, according to the report, are that many small business operators have a preference for learning informally or on the job, and the time needed to undertake an accredited course.

The report says many small businesses are deterred from committing to formal, accredited training because of the need to attend conventional classes on a regular, routine basis, especially as some businesses have peak seasons of demand during the year.

The most immediate training needs identified in the report’s research are human resource management skills – particularly how to attract and retain staff – business management skills, and business planning and risk management.

Small Business Development Corporation managing director Stephen Moir said business training needed be more flexible to user-friendly to meet the needs of small business owners.

“Small business historically hasn’t been receptive to long-term programs. They are usually reluctant to do 10- to 12-week programs,” he said.

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