Boost small business growth by developing skills, not teaching them

The Financial Times reports that the UK can learn from Germany’s vocational training to solve the long-standing puzzle of why British firms will soon be 30% less efficient than their European rival. In Global Entrepreneurship Week, CRATE heeds the message to put forward an alternative and disruptive skills delivery model for the UK’s larger, different, and more culturally entwined base of entrepreneurs.

Written by: John Walker, Chief Executive, CRATE - 15th November 2018

CRATE’s approach, like that of Germany’s highly productive SMEs, focuses skills-development in the workplace, not the classroom, through solving real business problems. Unlike Germany’s much larger businesses, this training doesn’t come from within firms, but arrives from other entrepreneurs either on-site at a CRATE scheme or from within CRATE’s network. This model requires a value exchange within a trust-based relationship that’s developed and embedded over time. This works well at CRATE as each party gives and receives knowledge and skills, with CRATE staff facilitating the learning by ‘joining the dots’. Competitive tensions are avoided, and insights enhanced, through CRATE’s diversity of sectors and businesses at different stages of growth.

This approach shares similarities with the high impacting 10,000 small business initiative from Goldman Sachs. This year-long programme is characterised as peer learning within a longer-term supportive business network, although the network runs alongside university lectures with applicants for the programme filtered, to limit annual participation. At CRATE, on-the-job learning is backed-up with ‘best-of-breed’ content, typically online and free, which allows CRATE to sign-post businesses to others who have invested in specialist resources, such as tax, recruitment, exporting or digital marketing.

As CRATE takes its delivery model outside of London and the South East, Further Education News writes, is CRATE’s approach a challenge to the traditional business model of FE colleges? At CRATE, our focus is on radically improving survival chances for the record number of entrepreneurs launching their ventures, alongside boosting growth for the country’s huge number of existing small businesses. If CRATE mirrors the entrepreneurs we support, who disrupt markets with their new product and service ideas, then we hope we are a challenge to the vocational training status quo. 


FE News: Entrepreneurial learning and the CRATE experience: a new business model for colleges?

The Financial Times: Germans show how to tackle the puzzle of productivity