back to article Government failing on small biz skills

The British Chamber of Commerce, which campaigns for small business, is complaining that the government is failing to keep its promises on funding for training and apprenticeship schemes. The Learning and Skills Council distributes over £10bn for training young people, whether it is in further education or by helping businesses …

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Anonymous Coward

Government sponsored training is a con.

Whilst all in favour of "real" training, sadly much seems to have gone the way of our GCSE and A Levels - the only thing that matters is the certificate.

I was conned into doing the training to become an accredited "Technology means business" consultant.

The "training" was a single day, no preparation was required.

The exam was same-day, on-line and marked electronically. One delegate failed (to nobody's surprise). She was taken away for some "coaching", a re-sit and a truly miraculous pass.

The content of the exams was a multiple choice simple business (such as the status of partnership compared with limited company) and ICT questions at such a superficial level that it in no way indicated any breadth or depth of knowledge, easier than a GCSE in Business studies or ICT.

Several experienced delegates were surprised that our answers for the same 3 questions were marked as incorrect, the tutors said it didn't matter as we'd all passed anyway.

I asked the facilitator what sales material was available for us to issue to potential clients explaining the value of the TMB accreditation. He was surprised by the question and the answer was "none".

The last straw was the annual renewal fee and the "continuing professional development" requirement: "You will be required to demonstrate and provide evidence that you have undertaken at least 35 hours of learning over a 12-month period, 15 hours of which must be formal training which can be corroborated." - so one day's training is enough to get the qualification but renewal needs 2 days training. And a week out of my year is removing 2% of my opportunity to do paid, productive work.

As a result of holding this qualification I was to be provided with referrals by Business Link who had persuaded me to do TMB - and charged me £1200. (I gather Business Link got an additional contribution from Government too). Each referral would result in a Government funded payment to me of £300 (and BL would get a payment too). They only made one referral. Needless to say I am no longer an "accredited TMB consultant" leaving the girl who failed the exam now more highly qualified than I, my 30 years Business and IT experience is an irrelevance. Having the advantage of working for Business Link she gets ahead of me for the opportunity to take referrals. She is TMB, I'm not. She is providing "expert advice" to small businesses - best of luck to them...

The solution - scrap all these expensive and ineffective training schemes (and the utterly useless Business Links) and just give small business incentives to take on apprentices and some tax breaks - like the now withdrawn exemption from corporation tax on the first £10k of profit. If as a small business I need some training for myself or my staff I'm quite happy to pay for it but I expect it to be good quality.

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