About this good practice
The UK has faced longstanding challenge with SME productivity. We are home to some of the world’s most innovative firms but have a larger proportion of less productive firms. There is strong evidence that management skills and digital adoption are key drivers of firm-level productivity.
The Help to Grow programme supports SMEs to boost their business performance and growth potential by developing strategic skills to increase long-term productivity, resilience, and capacity to innovate. Help to Grow aims to deliver to over 30,000 SMEs.
How objectives are reached:
The program is implemented in 12 modules spread over 3 months. The standard module week consists of a 2-hour webinar which happens at the beginning of the week, followed by asynchronous learning via the Virtual Learning Environment and finally a 60-minute facilitated peer group call at the end of the week. These elements are timetabled to allow sufficient time for participants to reflect on the webinar and explore the asynchronous learning before the peer group call.
The program aims to:
• Develop a culture of innovation that is inclusive and embraces diversity, leading to better ideas and problem-solving.
• Explore the links between productivity and innovation, knowledge absorption, digitisation, internationalisation.
• Put societal and environmental concerns at the heart of the business’s mission and values and reflecting this in the brand.
Help to Grow Management is 90% funded by the government. At Leeds Beckett, the core team includes 1 Programme Director, 1 Project Mgr, 12 Module Leads, 4 Peer Group Leads, 26 Mentors
The costs to deliver a cohort is within the region of £73,040 in staff time.
Evidence of success
Since inception, Leeds Beckett has delivered the programme to several full cohorts of regional SMEs across different industries and sectors.
The “Internationalisation and Winning New Markets” module emphasises the importance of innovation in developing new markets. SME leaders learn how to apply strategic decision-making tools including developing a strategic action plan.
Participant feedback highlights the Mentoring & Peer Groups as incremental to the success of the program.
Potential for learning or transfer
The best practice was chosen because Help to Grow was conceived as a direct result of the impact of Covid on SMEs across the region.
This good practice covers the key themes of business productivity, innovation and resilience, which underpin international trade. The impact of Covid on our Leeds City Region has brought into sharp focus how the impact on trade. The ability of a business to withstand supply chain issues, movement of migrant labour, a decrease in value or volume of exports is dependent on the skills they have, the resilience and flexibility to adapt to unforeseen change. This programme provides SMEs in our region with the chance to re-assess their working practices and in particular their markets and customers. By applying the knowledge to their particular businesses, access mentoring and peer group sessions, and ultimately a growth action plan, it is an opportunity to address skills gaps, and emerge from the pandemic with new found ability to grow and adapt to change