06/08/2008 - 22:00

Mentor service launch

06/08/2008 - 22:00

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An initiative that will provide discounted mentoring and training services to Western Australian small business owners is due to be launched by state Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan later this month.

An initiative that will provide discounted mentoring and training services to Western Australian small business owners is due to be launched by state Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan later this month.

Small Business Solutions, which was originally developed in Queensland, will provide a 'business health check' and mentoring service to its clients through a team of 12 advisers.

Small Business Solutions state manager Tim Milsom said the program was about bridging the gap between small business and mentors by matching operators with the advice they needed.

"We are offering a one-to-one mentoring service to small business, as well as going into the small business and having a look at where their weaknesses are and identifying them with the business owner," Mr Milsom said.

The project, which will receive $1.4 million in funding over two years from the Department of Education and Training, was established after a recommendation from the State Training Board's Small Business Advisory Committee.

The program, which runs as a business franchise, was originally developed in Queensland and was launched 12 months ago.

"It already exists in Queensland and we basically bought a franchise to launch here," said Mr Milsom.

"It's literally replicating the Queensland project... [that] serviced over 500 small businesses in the first year and made $1.5 million for Queensland Tafe."

The new service will run separately from the business enterprise centres that operate in WA under the umbrella of the Small Business Development Corporation.

Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan said it was important for the state to recognise the unique needs of small business operators.

"While the major resource companies are critical to the state's economy, the small business sector underpins the Western Australian labour market and is a major contributor to the state's economy," Mr McGowan said.

"Small Business Solutions will work to engage small business in the vocational and educational training system and ensure that training is relevant, accessible and convenient."

Small Business Solutions mentors, who are all accredited with a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, were picked from a wide range of industries and have all had success running their own small businesses in the past or present.

"When we say 'we send someone into your business that understands small business' that is exactly what you'll get because they're people who have run small businesses in the past," Mr Milsom said.

Small Business Solutions, which will be hosted by West Coast Tafe, is aiming to service 55 small businesses each month.

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