As part of its on-going commitment to supporting innovation and understanding the needs of small businesses, Bord Gáis Energy is supporting the SFA to deliver a series of practical and informative Business Bytes events for SMEs. This programme is now up and running and we recently caught up with one of the many businesses who attended the first event to give us an insight into the challenges that they face.
Liz Cassidy is the regional network manager of ManagementWorks, a training network for SMEs that helps firms to improve business performance by providing a range of subsidised, tailored management development programmes.
Having run her own business for 23 years, Liz recently joined Skillnets Ltd.; a state funded enterprise-led body dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of training and up skilling and is responsible for promoting the new ManagementWorks initiative.
ManagementWorks delivers a range of top level programmes regionally to senior managers in the SME sector. The purpose is to assist firms to develop management capabilities in order to increase productivity and efficiencies and grow in terms of sales output and job creation. Support from an experienced mentor is an integral part of the core ManagementWorks programmes.
The core programmes are a Management Team Development Programme, a Managing Director Action Programme and an Operational Efficiency Boot Camp which includes support from a mentor. Other programmes available include a Postgraduate Diploma in Management and Strategic Networking for Business.
As regional network manager, Liz explains, “I am responsible for developing a network of SMEs in the Northwest, West and Midwest which have shared management needs. Upcoming programmes are scheduled for September and October 2012 so my focus at the moment is to recruit companies for the individual programmes.”
When asked what factors give ManagementWorks a competitive edge over other training networks, Liz says, “Extensive research has gone into developing the range of management development programmes on offer. The programmes are designed specifically for owner managers and senior managers in the Irish SME sector.
“The prices are also very competitive because delivery is procured at competitive rates and subsidised by Skillnets from funding received from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.”
Liz has ambitious plans for ManagementWorks, “Over the coming year, we will deliver training programmes regionally and will engage with SME companies that have previously found it difficult to participate in management development skills due to time constraints or inaccessibility to suitable courses.
“We anticipate growth in the whole area of management development as companies realise that without a robust management team and adequate management development skills, they will not be able to compete in domestic and overseas markets.”
Recognising the challenges which face small businesses in the current economic climate such as low consumer confidence, sales in a contracting market, access to finance and skills shortages, Liz also identifies the opportunities which exist.
She says, “There is a range of supports available from government under the Action Plan for Jobs initiative. ManagementWorks is one of these initiatives offering subsidised management development programmes to increase the capabilities of owner managers and senior managers in small and medium sized companies.
“Another initiative is the JobBridge programme where eligible companies can take on an intern for six to nine months to work at no additional cost to the company.
“I would strongly urge companies to avail to these opportunities to help develop competitiveness, sustain jobs and create employment,” she concluded.
In addition to her role as regional manager for the ManagementWorks initiative, Liz also supports women entrepreneurs at the early stages of development by acting as a mentor on a pro bono basis. She served as an EU Ambassador for Female Entrepreneurs from 2009 – 2011 and is currently part of the EU Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs.Bord Gáis Energy is delighted to support this byte size insight into an up and coming SME. The SFA Business Bytes events are free to attend and offer invaluable advice and expert insights to help SMEs develop new and relevant skills, reflecting Bord Gáis Energy’s dedication to assisting its business customers in achieving their business aims.