It's safe to say that finding the right business course is a mind-boggling and overwhelming task.
Scores of different providers and courses vie for your money, and many variables affect the type of course you choose. There are literally thousands of possibilities, which generally depend on the amount of time you have and how much you can afford.
The Government is keen to plug any skills gaps that exist, to which end it runs various schemes and initiatives. To make the UK marketplace as competitive as possible it is continually investing millions to help small businesses achieve their optimum potential.
A case in point is the Train to Gain scheme, funded by the Department for Education and Skills and delivered by the Learning and Skills Council, which aims to help businesses grow. This offers training to both business owners and employees and includes elements such as a leadership and management programme for directors of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and a free skills brokerage service.
To find out about other Government-backed training schemes, visit the Department for Education and Skills or the Department of Trade and Industry.
Learning network Learndirect is another initiative sponsored by the Government and offers free, impartial advice on which education to undertake to improve your business knowledge. It has a dedicated business service offering eCourses, which include online lessons in management and people skills, business law, and health and safety across a wide range of industries, such as retail, the motor trade, construction, hospitality, IT and health.
Prices start at £14.99. You can do the courses on a computer in the comfort of your own home, starting them whenever you like, and pick them up whenever you have a spare minute. You can search Learndirect's database www.learndirect-advice.co.uk of nearly a million courses across the UK for something that suits.
The British Chambers of Commerce is also a good resource of educational tools. Each regional chamber offers its own range of courses that can help you attain the key skills needed to run your own business. For example, the North East Chamber of Commerce administers its courses from nine sites around the region and does bespoke courses, workshops and seminars.
The National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, a not-for-profit agency, offers scholarships, with free training and mentoring to entrepreneurs from disadvantaged areas. They can be contacted on 01234 831623 for further information.
And of course there are the educational institutes in your area. Colleges, universities and secondary schools often offer part- or full-time courses during the day, on a weekend or in the evening. These types of provider tend to deal in a wide range of qualifications, from diplomas to GCSEs and introductory sessions.
In terms of private courses, there are numerous avenues to explore. You can do an internet search, flick through the Yellow Pages or even, if a magazine is published for your industry, look in the trade press for advertisements and recommended courses.
Lastly, the Institute of Directors is a trade body that offers courses, training and skills specifically to directors of companies, as well as from huge multinationals. Its website, www.iod.com, details the types of courses available and pricing, each focusing on the skills needed to run a business and manage staff.
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