Leeds Business School launches government-backed programme to upskill small business leaders
The new ‘Help to Grow’ scheme is backed by £520 million from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and its aim is to boost economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 by helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The programme aims to support the leadership skills needed to boost business performance, resilience to future crises, and achieve long-term growth.
The 12-week programme is 90% funded by the Government – with a total of only £750 per business to contribute. It has been designed to be completed by senior managers of SMEs, alongside full-time work.
Olga Munroe, Help to Grow Programme Director, explained: “The course consists of a blend of online webinars delivered by our academic experts with practical case study workshops – focusing on giving SMEs in our Yorkshire region practical skills to drive future growth. Participants will also receive bespoke support in form of one-on-one business mentorship, peer to peer discussion sessions, and sessions where we explore case studies from relatable SMEs.
“We ensure a real focus on practical problem-solving techniques and all businesses come away with an action plan to embed in their organisation from the word ‘go’. We are directly providing the skillset – the frameworks and toolkits - needed to support people to adapt to any future crisis situation.”
The first programme begins on Tuesday 14 September, with further groups starting from October. To find out more, and register your interest, please visit the Government's Help to Grow website.
Help to Grow builds on the success of the Government’s pilot scheme – the Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP). More than 100 Yorkshire businesses have completed the SBLP with Leeds Business School at Leeds Beckett over the last six months – and more than 2,000 have completed the programme nationally.
Professor George Lodorfos, Dean of Leeds Business School, said: “Our SBLP has been so successful and we are proud to be building on this with Help to Grow. The programmes bring national recognition to the value that business schools offer to small businesses – giving them the practical skills and knowledge needed to enhance their leadership, adapt to change, stimulate innovation, and improve their long-term overall business performance. It is wonderful that the government is recognising that not only do SMEs need financial support - they also need the skills to become resilient and grow.”
The programmes are giving us the opportunity to reach out to many businesses in the region who would not previously have sought out a relationship with a university.
Our delivery team consists of academic colleagues with strong practitioners’ skills - people who either owned or still own a business. Their academic experience, combined with hands-on experience, means that they understand the challenges of SMEs and can effectively translate theory into practice.
Speaking about his experience of the SBLP, Peter Needham, Managing Director of Watermill Plumbing and Heating Ltd, based in Ripon, said: “The course has already given me some quite significant insights, ideas and confirmations of strategies I'm taking with my business. I am finding it really valuable and think it will make a significant difference to what I might achieve. It is pragmatic, inspiring, relevant and to the point, and straight away applicable to my business plans.”
Jo Munns, Director of Ductec Ltd, based in Heckmondwike, added: “The module I have just completed was spot on and extremely thought provoking - there are a lot of simple changes you can make. The peer group was brilliant too, as we all face the same issues and were able to discuss ways of improving what we do together.”
Following the programme, businesses become part of the Leeds Beckett alumni community – allowing them continued access to guest lectures with industry experts, networking events, and the University’s wide range of SME support programmes including part-funded Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (mKTPS), Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) courses, and student and graduate recruitment and placements.
Help to Grow is a national programme, delivered by world-class business schools, in collaboration with industry, and accredited by the Small Business Charter - a national accreditation scheme awarded by small businesses to business schools who excel in supporting SMEs and the local economy.
A total of 30,000 places are available over three years. SMEs from any sector in the UK, that have been operating for more than one year and have between five and 249 employees, are eligible to take part. The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business.