Wales Must Gear Management Training to Small Enterprise Needs

Article excerpt

LAST week we talked about ugly babies and the importance that should be placed on management training for small businesses - especially start- ups - in Wales.

The big question was: how on earth do you make management training relevant to individual businesses in the here and now?

Wales lacks a coherent management training policy, and the resulting failure to fund and provide management skills training can only deepen the competitive disadvantage faced by small businesses, in domes- tic and international markets.

Because of the very nature of small firms, the skills of owner-managers and their attitudes have a major impact upon the internal decision-making and performance of their respective firms. There the aptitude of individual owner-managers has significant and obvious consequences on the success of the economy in general. Only by firms becoming a lot more productive can the economy grow without sparking inflation.

Yet almost all research highlights the fact that most publicly-funded management development provision fails to meet the real needs and expectations of SMEs.

The issue of management training in this sector has largely been neglected by development and management specialists who, until recently, were content to suggest solutions which were more relevant to the business strategies of larger firms. Attempts to down-scale and forcibly fit large-scale training strategies to resource-starved small businesses have resulted in a relative paucity of material focusing on the human resource needs of smaller firms.

The comparative professional neglect that has affected the small business sector was further compounded by the economic policies of successive governments which tended to be biased towards large companies and multinationals.

As a result, small business owner-managers are generally sceptical of government involvement in management training programmes which leaves a credibility gap.

This has meant that the management development at even the most basic level is in danger of not being properly addressed within the vast majority of firms, aside from a preoccupation with the skills of owner-managers at start-up and during early growth. …