26 March 2015

In its response to last week's Budget, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) made it clear that the elephant in the room, ignored by the Chancellor, was low productivity and its impact on wages and the general economy.

Any organisations that agreed with the CIPD analysis now have the opportunity to do something about it with the chance to bid for a share of £1.5 million to tackle the UK’s productivity gap.

The money is being made available from a new fund launched by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) under its UK Futures Programme, which is seeking to develop better leadership and entrepreneurial skills amongst small businesses.

The latest Employers’ Skills Survey, carried out by UKCES, suggests that small firms are significantly less likely to provide management training than their larger counterparts.

Across the UK, just 33% of firms with fewer than 50 staff provided management training, far below the 72% of those with more than that number.

UKCES is therefore looking for bids from "anchor institutions" to help small firms develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills. Such institutions are defined as "having a strong local presence and making a strategic contribution to the local economy".

Examples include universities, local enterprise networks (LEPs), colleges, chambers of commerce, banks and major employers.

The total fund available is £1.5 million, with a maximum contribution per project of £200,000. Proposals must be joint investments, with organisations investing in cash and/or in kind.

The deadline for applications is 30 April with projects due to run for a maximum of 12 months, starting in August 2015.

The fund is only available in those areas of the UK where productivity outputs are below average: North West England, North East England, Yorkshire and Humberside, South West England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Full details are available in a Competition Brief ("Developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills in small firms") available here.