One of the many challenges facing any entrepreneur in a small to medium sized business is the requirement to keep up to speed with the internet. Structured training is one way of doing that – and in the ideal world that training would be presented in a variety of options.
Aimed at businesses with limited knowledge, but a strong appetite for learning, these talks are shorter than evening training (1 to 1.5 hours long) and address basic aspects of the internet (how do I set up POP email. What is POP email? How do I find things on the internet)
Longer, one off sessions
These sit between the introductory talks and training that happens over a number of evenings. A typical session would cover the area of dealing with website developers – what should I expect in terms of cost, managing the process, preparing for the initial contact etc
Taking place over a couple of evenings or days these courses are relatively in depth and could cover areas such as email newsletters, website design or being found by search engines.
This would allow a business to receive impartial advice on which internet tools are suitable for a business at this stage of its development, and for its current business objectives.
A network of experienced internet users (who are non-technical) would allow the experiences and knowledge of the group to be shared and evolve together.
In reality the complete structure above would be impossible to deliver in all locations – there is a critical mass needed for some training that will not be possible in smaller counties and towns. However most SME’s will find that almost no aspects of the training above are available in their areas – or that the courses available are offered in a general context and are not tailored for the needs of small business.
The three obvious mechanisms for delivering this training are City and County Enterprise Boards (CEB’s), Leader Groups and Skillsnet. The CEB’s are the only ones with universal coverage so the following applies to them.
- Is there a system of structured internet related training nationally? No
- Is there uniform delivery of at least elements of the above requirements across all CEB’s? No
- Is there national guidance and support available from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for any CEB that wants or needs guidance in this area? No
In fairness all of the above applies across the board – the CEB’s are deliberately set up as independent entities and allowed to develop training for local requirements. However the complexities of internet training mean that a national program should be in place and that is not the case.
Small businesses around the county will find it almost impossible to find relevant training in the absence of such a national program. Some great training is provided in some areas – however is the exception rather than the rule.
[disclaimer – I deliver elements of this training on a local basis in a number of CEB’s so my commentary is at least partially informed. The introduction of a national program could mean the loss of business for me in the face of competition from larger providers more capable of meeting national guidelines]