No Budget? 4 Low Cost Training Options for SMEs

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage,” said Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO.

There is no doubt that learning and training is an unavoidable part of keeping an organisation competitive, but what options do you have if you are a boss of an SME without much of a training budget?

Here are 4 ideas on how you can train your staff at affordable prices.

With courses as cheap as US$10, ranging from Digital Marketing to Coding, this is a fast and convenient way for staff to pick up a new skill

#1 – Online Training

Online training platforms, such as Udemy and Coursera, could be one way your staff could get training.

With courses as cheap as US$10, ranging from Digital Marketing to Coding, this is a fast and convenient way for staff to pick up a new skill – plus, they can learn from anywhere with an internet connection.

How does online training work? Usually, you can make payment with PayPal or your corporate credit card, and you will receive access to a website or web program where you can view slides, watch videos, and hear audio of a trainer speaking. Some online training courses come with a certificate, while others don’t.

At only a fraction of what in-person training costs, what’s the catch?

Effectiveness.

With online training, there is no face-to-face feedback and interaction, which could dampen the effectiveness of the training. The jury is still out on whether online training can ever replace face-to-face, classroom training.

So, can your staff learn a complex new subject, such as ‘Managing Social Media’ from an online training course?

The simple answer is no.

Online training usually lacks activities, face-to-face interaction, peer feedback, and exercises, however it is possible to learn 1 or 2 aspects of managing social media – such as measuring social media reach – from an online course.

So if you are choosing for your staff to go through an online course, be sure to manage what your expectations can be. Often, they would still need face-to-face guidance, feedback and practice on much of the subject matter.

Think of customised training like buying a suit – a suit that has been fitted to your exact measurements will always fit better

#2 – Customised Training

Customised training might not be cheap, but it is one way you can truly get your money’s worth and Return of Investment. Some training companies are able to customise the content of a workshop for maximum effectiveness and relevance to your business and industry.

For example – let’s say your company is in the business of insurance and you wanted to enrol staff in a Communication Workshop.

Select training companies might be able to customise the workshop, at no additional charge, to include case studies and examples of communication scenarios in insurance, directly relating to what your staff experience on a regular basis.

The result is that you have a more tailor-made, bespoke workshop directly suited to what your company needs – your staff will get more out of the training rather than a generic workshop.

Think of customised training like buying a suit – a suit that has been fitted to your exact measurements will always fit better, and therefore be better value or investment, than one that’s off the rack.

Public workshops are especially suitable for your team if you have just 1 or 2 staff in a particular department that needs training

#3 –  Public Workshops

Public workshops are also another way for you to send select members of your team for training that will directly benefit them. These workshops can usually be found on event platforms and are constantly marketed on social media.

This is especially suitable for your team if you have just 1 or 2 staff in a particular department that needs training – for example, you may have just 2 people in your finance department, and it doesn’t make sense to send the entire team for a finance workshop.

Usually organised by schools, universities and training companies, public workshops are a great way for your staff to still get the training they require while on a budget.

The catch is that public workshops can get cancelled if attendance is low as the organiser may not be able to make a profit when organising it.

So when making payment for the public workshop, do check the fine print, as it might state that a ‘minimum attendance’ is required before the public workshop takes place. In such cases, be sure to ask what the refund policy is, should the workshop not go on as scheduled.

Public workshops come with a risk — they can get cancelled if attendance is low as the organiser may not be able to make a profit when organising it.

#4 – Offset training costs with grants

Another way you can offset training costs is with government grants such as the Productivity & Innovation Grant, for training of employees’ which “refers to the costs incurred to provide training to employees for the purposes of the trade and business, and can include both training conducted by the business’ personnel or by external trainers.”

The rules around using the Productivity & Innovation Grant – and similar grants – may differ from year to year, so check out what the criteria is yearly.

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