Free advice for SMEs

Small companies in the engineering sector can now get free help in identifying and addressing their business and skills development needs to make them more competitive.

SEMTA, the government-licensed Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, is offering a brokerage service to companies with fewer than 250 employees. Trained, experienced advisers are on hand to visit companies and take an overview of their situation. They help them look at the skills they need to take their businesses forward and signpost them to local sources of appropriate training, development and possible grants.

According to SEMTA, brokers provide tried and tested tools designed to help companies focus on key business and skills areas. These include benchmarking to show companies how their performance measures up to their peers; guidance in linking business objectives to skills training; a view of national standards and qualifications that can boost job competence; and assessment of productivity in terms of quality, cost and delivery.

Financed by the European Social Fund, with support from the Department for Education and Skills, the service is free of charge to users.

“SMEs are vital to the engineering sector,” said SEMTA Operations Director, Lynn Tomkins. “Most don’t have an in-house training and development function and lack the resources that larger companies take for granted, yet their business and skills development needs are just as important.

“Through our work with employers and partners, we at SEMTA have a thorough knowledge of the issues facing the industry. Our brokerage service gives smaller companies free and easy access to professional help that can be a real catalyst in effecting changes that impact on the bottom line.”