Legal Small Business Advice

57% of British SMEs don’t offer staff training and development

16 Dec 2017

A recent report from the Federation of Small Businessesindicates that while 91% of small businesses recognise the value of staff training and development, both in terms of increasing the value of an employee’s contribution to the business and in terms of employee retention, just 43% of British SMEs are currently investing in training and development.

The cost of providing training was cited as the primary reason small businesses don’t offer their staff a training and development programme, with 43% identifying this as an issue. 34% of the businesses surveyed by the FSB indicated that they don’t provide training because they don’t have access to relevant training options in their area.

The survey of 2,000 small business owners also revealed that small businesses are more likely to offer training and development in particular specialisms, such as marketing, finance and digital technologies, but are much less inclined to offer general management and leadership training.

Reflecting on their own training and development, 59% of small business owners indicated that they update their own business skills on an annual basis, but just 25% had invested in their management and leadership skills during the past year, while 26% admitted they had never undertaken any form of management training.

Mike Cherry, Policy Director for the FSB, said: “The UK’s 5.4 million small businesses boast some of the most dynamic and creative business leaders in the world. However, our research demonstrates how greater investment in management skills could significantly benefit start-ups and scale-ups and help them realise their growth ambitions.

The UK is well known as being a great place to start a business, but we need to get better at helping small firms reach the next level. A key aspect of this is making sure the right management and leadership capabilities are in place, and that these grow in line with the business.”

A bright idea: low cost or no cost management courses

While the costs involved and the scarcity of training options in a particular area are common hurdles, they don’t have to be. In a previous article we highlighted a range of accountancy courses for small business owners and drew attention to the fact there are a number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offering accountancy training online at a little or no cost.

MOOCs are also a viable option for general management and leadership training. If small business owners are keen to improve their own business management and leadership skills, or if they want to invest in training and development for their employees, the following MOOCs offer management and leadership training at little or no cost – no matter where a business is located.


The following business management and leadership courses from Futurelearn are free to study, but if students want a Certificate of Completion in order to document their professional development these cost £34 each.

Managing People: Engaging Your Workforce

Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership

Starting a Business 2: People and Networks

Contract Management: Building Relationships in Business

Starting a Business 4: Business Processes

Digital Leadership: Creating Value Through Technology


Courses from the Digital Business Academy are free of charge, and offer free Certificates of Completion to students who pass the course(s).

How to Manage Customers


Coursera offers both paid courses, which cost £54 each and award course certificates upon completion, and free courses, which don’t award course certificates.

Strategic Management

Entrepreneurial Strategic Management

Foundations of Everyday Leadership

Managing Talent

Fundamentals of Management

Managing and Agile Team

Managing Employee Performance


The following business management and leadership courses from edX are free to study, but if students want to order a Certificate of Completion after passing a course these cost $79 each.

Introduction to People Management

Ethical Leadership: Character, Civility, and Community

Introduction to Managerial Economics

Introduction to Operations Management

Manage your time

At Accounts and Legal we can help to manage your books so that you have more time to manage your business. We have a team of small business accountants dedicated to providing fixed-price taxaccounting and business planning services that are specifically geared towards supporting the growth of Britain’s SMEs and sole traders. Get in touch with Accounts and Legal now, or get an online quote now using our instant accounting quote tool.