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Date Created: 12/21/15
Skills for Growth – An Essential Guide to the Victorian Government’s Strategic Planning and Workforce Development Initiative for Small and Medium Business By Dawson Barber Optimize My Workforce Introduction to Skills for Growth Skills for Growth is a strategic planning and workforce development program run by the Government of Victoria that provides small and medium businesses in the State of Victoria with free access to skilled business consultants and to employee training opportunities. The goal of the program is to help small and medium business owners achieve greater levels of near-term and long-term success by mapping out their business’ key goals and priorities and evaluating – and closing – capability gaps in their workforce. Key benefits that the Skills for Growth program is meant to create for participating businesses include: • Superior business performance and productivity • Increased workforce efficiency and effectiveness • Enhanced capacity for innovation • Expanded range of employee capabilities • Reduced overall costs All of which, of course, lead to the realization of the ultimate benefit for businesses: improved profits. Skills for Growth Background The Victorian Government committed $52 million in funding to the Skills for Growth program in recognition of the fact that small and medium businesses play such a pivotal role in Victoria’s economy. In fact, small and medium businesses make up more than ninety-nine percent of all businesses in Victoria and employ nearly one million people. The program was launched in April of 2009 and has 25 Service Providers – who were appointed after an exhaustive and lengthy review process – across the State of Victoria that are approved to provide – in partnership withworkforce planning and training Specialists – accredited training services to businesses that participate in the program. Skills for Growth Structure After a business registers with the Skills for Growth program (which can be done by visiting the website at www.business.vic.gov.au/skillsforgrowth) and selects a Service Provider that best suits its needs, the Service Provider assigns an independent workforce planning and training Specialist who contacts the business owner and arranges for an on-site visit. Workforce planning and training Specialists are required to have completed a Training and Assessment (TAA) course as well as well as an accredited course on Assess Informal Learning (AIL). Completion of a number of key units from Certificate IV is a prerequisite for AIL. The program basically unfolds in two phases. Phase 1 The first phase of the program involves a workforce planning and training Specialist carrying out a business review that leads to the development of a workforce development plan. The workforce development plan identifies, among other things, opportunities for upskilling and recommendations for training. Following are the steps to the first phase of the Skills for Growth program: • Completion of a high-level business analysis that looks at, among other things, the strategic direction of the business Page 2 Copyright 2010 Dawson Barber All Rights Reserved • Assessment of the skills and training needs of employees as they relate to the business’ strategic direction • Development of a Workforce Training and Action Plan that identifies business and employee skills needs and that recommends referrals to relevant training programs and learning opportunities There are no costs associated with participating in the first phase. Phase 2 The second phase of the program unfolds only if the business owner or manager chooses to proceed with the training recommendations (which are accompanied by three quotes). Following are the steps to the second phase of the Skills for Growth program: • Facilitation of staff placement into training with an accredited training organisation • Completion of a follow-up review after staff have completed training – or have undergone at least three months of training – and of a Skills for Growth report which must be reviewed and approved by the business (any employees hired by the business after the initial review receive individual training plans) Phase two must be funded by the participating businesses, whose staff may be eligible for the Victorian Training Guarantee, which offers substantial subsidies for placements in recognised vocational training courses. Eligibility is determined by a number of different factors – including: age, educational background, citizenship, and residency status. The Skills for Growth program typically takes four weeks to complete, with the follow-up review generally completed after six months. Skills for Growth Eligibility The Skills for Growth program is open to all small and medium sized businesses that are based in Victoria. In order to qualify, a business must:: • Employ between 1 to 200 staff • Have been in operation for at least 12 months • Be financially viable (effective trading history and ability to meet debts when they fall due) Clearly, the standards are set to encourage as many Victorian businesses to participate in the program as possible. Key Statistics on the Skills for Growth Program As of the end of January 2010, the Skills for Growth program had hit the following milestones: • 1,648 businesses had registered for the Skills for Growth program • 667 workforce action plans had been approved by businesses • 17,934 employee training plans had been approved by businesses • 10,488 approved training plans were eligible for the Victorian Training Guarantee Clearly uptake of the Skills for Growth program by Victorian businesses has been strong. So, too, have the results that many businesses have seen from their participation in the program, which you can read about in the case studies published on the Business Victoria website. Page 3 Copyright 2010 Dawson Barber All Rights Reserved If you own or manage a small to medium business in the State of Victoria – and meet the eligibility requirements set out earlier in this article – do your business a favour and check out the Skills for Growth program. About the Author Dawson Barber is a respected authority in the field of small and medium business growth. His expertise cuts across sales and marketing, finance, operations, and human capital management. Although he’s based out of Vancouver, BC, he’s got extensive international business experience – owing to his role as the Vice President of Sales Force Effectiveness for Drake International as well as his roles as National Sales and Marketing Manager, National Solutions Manager, Executive Committee member for Drake’s Australian operations. Dawson was also part of the team at Drake Australia that won a coveted position on the panel of Service Providers for the Skills for Growth Program. Click on the link to visit thetimize My Workforce website and more about the different types of workforce optimization solutions that can help your business improve workforce performance, productivity, and, ultimately, profitability. Page 4 Copyright All Rights Reserved
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