I read with interest a recent article that looked at a pilot initiative which is being launched by CIPD and JP Morgan’s Chase Foundation, which is being designed to help small businesses by providing HR & skills development to enable the SME to stay on top of new found skills.

The people skills programme is being piloted across three areas of the UK – Hackney, Stoke on Trent and Glasgow, with services being delivered in collaboration with local partners which SMEs can access to improve their leadership and management capability to better use their employees skills. In order to support the SME bespoke HR and guidance will be offered which will included 1-2-1 guidance, telephone helpline to discuss employment and skills issues, online information and templates for employee processes and local networking and events for training.

The programme is also set to encourage SMEs to invest in young people through apprenticeships and work experience through working with schools and colleges in the local areas.

In our recent blog we looked at the National Living Wage and how its impact will be on profitability and the ability for businesses to be able to invest. One area which we predicted would become increasingly popular was that of tactically employing people under the age of 24 in order to keep wage bills lower. The scheme therefore from the CIPD and JP Morgan Chase, will encourage the SME to work closely with schools and colleges in order to encourage younger people into their organisations, build skills sets all the while keeping wage costs down.

Whilst upskilling is in theory good for smaller businesses, the main shortfall in any scheme such as this is the ability to stay on top of employee training and development. Having the time to invest in employees in order to maintain their professional development is costly not just in finances but in hours – from both a trainer and employee perspective.

One way in which SMEs can manage this process and maximise income generation is looking at current internal processes and the potential for working smarter. Potentially outsourcing functions which are time heavy on Personnel such as payroll can free up time and allow employees in these roles to focus on learning & development in order to maximise productivity.