Kate Griffiths_SIPScience industry SMEs’ take-up of training and development through the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) is having a high impact on business performance, according to the latest figures. The training evaluation survey, conducted by Cogent Skills, among learners who accessed co-funded learning from the SIP’s SME-focused “Skills for Growth” programme reveals where training is having the greatest effect on business. Here, Kate Griffiths, Skills for Growth Manager at Cogent Skills, discusses the results of the survey. 

Science industry SMEs’ take-up of training through the Science Industry Partnership (SIP), which is jointly funded by the Government and employers, * is having a significant impact on business performance.

The companies involved come from growth areas such as nanotechnology, synthetic chemistry and anaerobic digestion, as well as pharmaceuticals, Clinical Research Organisations (CROs), biotechnology and formulation.

We’ve now conducted a programme evaluation survey among learners who accessed the co-funded learning from the SIP  – it shows that 73% registered a high/very high training impact on addressing challenges in their roles while 69% said that learning input had changed the way they worked.

More than 50% of SMEs polled said the training programmes resulted in a high/ very high impact on cross-skilling and sustainable business growth (53%). Half of SMEs witnessed an increase in business as a consequence of training via the SIP.

SIP SME IconSo what does all this positive feedback tell us? Bob Redfern, managing director of High Force Research, one of the SMEs involved in the SIP training, sums it up – he says that as a chemical R&D company the SIP programme has helped the company identify the skills its needs to support business growth. Not just for training scientific personnel in technical matters, but also in people skills.

In other words, a funded programme, specifically designed for science industry SMEs, has given a real boost to sector skills. This kind of approach, which SMEs had long said was missing from the landscape, is now paying real dividends.

Interestingly, the most popular areas of training undertaken by SMEs in year one of the SIP is focused on market and data analysis, closely followed by leadership and personnel management. The next most sought-after training among SMEs covered regulation, then commercialisation and laboratory practice and formulation.

SME employers and employees have also welcomed the opportunity to use SIP training solutions quality assured against criteria developed by science industry SMEs, with 100% of the learners saying that they would recommend the SIP training to other companies.

We know that SMEs employing graduates need them to take on more supervisory tasks at an early stage in their career, and the leadership and personnel management training is particularly helping them to embrace more responsible job roles and become next generation leaders.

We’re delighted that the SIP programme has been widely adopted by the science SME community and it’s fantastic to see people returning to Cogent Skills for additional training and support. The feedback we are getting shows that the style of training is a very important factor.

Ultimately there is a clear application of the training on the business, it is high impact, short and has flexible delivery options – all important factors for SME managers.

SMEs have indeed welcomed the newer training methods available through the SIP, with 86% noting a high or very high impact from the programme’s style and delivery.

This has included how well the training applies to the industries themselves, quality assurance of training providers based on SME requirements, availability of shorter duration courses and on-site training. A long overdue, tailored skills approach for innovative, high growth SMEs and supply chain companies.

 * The SIP has been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding