This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Business learning and training
The Business Learning Accounts (BLA) programme for small businesses is to be wound down, it was confirmed today.
Deputy Minister for Lifelong Learning Allan Wilson made the announcement following the recommendation of a final evaluation report of the pilot scheme set up in 2003 as a test to encourage small businesses to get involved in training.
He said that many elements of the pilot scheme had been adopted by stakeholders and that training would continue to be provided through the enterprise networks.
Mr Wilson said:
"Lifelong learning is a journey we want to see all Scots embark upon. Not only does learning bring personal fulfilment but goes a long way to improving business performance and growing our economy.
"I want to see our small businesses with easy access to training plans reaping the rewards that an educated, informed and specialist workforce provides.
"We know that a well-trained workforce is linked to business growth - that is why we are committed to finding the most effective way to support appropriate learning for small business employees.
"The BLA scheme was a success in several ways - for example employers and employees alike were positive about the benefits of the programme.
"More than 70 per cent of employers noticed an increase in employee satisfaction, business efficiency, and professionalism.
"But the recommendation of the BLA evaluation report was that it was not necessary to rollout a stand alone programme and that training support for small businesses could be offered through the Enterprise Networks and learndirect scotland for business as part of the range of support already available.
"We will continue to support training with an economic development focus - and businesses which encourage learning for their employees."
BLA offered three core services:
- advice on assessing training needs
- assistance in sourcing training
- financial support of up to 50 per cent of the training costs up to a maximum of £7,500
An external evaluation was carried out to determine how effective the scheme would be on a national level and identify areas of success that could be carried forward.
The Executive commissioned Cambridge Policy Consultants (CPC) to undertake the evaluation.
Good practice from BLA, particularly the local delivery agent support and the flexible approach to learning in Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise workforce development delivery will be rolled out.
A number of the key principles of BLA have already been included in business and workforce development approaches of HIE, SEn and learndirect scotland for business.
To date 422 BLA accounts were opened across the four pilots. A target of 75 companies undertaking Training Needs Analysis (TNA) was set for each pilot and this was achieved by December 2005.
Support for small businesses involved in training will continue to be available through the Enterprise Networks, Business Gateway and learndirect Scotland for business.