CIPD and J.P. Morgan join forces to launch small business support pilots


hand shakingA major new pilot initiative designed to help unlock small business productivity and growth through the provision of quality HR and skills development support to businesses is welcomed today by Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP, Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise.

The People Skills programme has been developed by the CIPD, with support from J.P. Morgan through the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and is being launched by Jo Swinson, former Business Minister at an event today in the London Borough of Hackney, one of three pilot areas across the UK.

The programme is being delivered in close collaboration with local partners in each of the pilot areas, and will be embedded into their existing local business, skills and employment infrastructure for easy access by local businesses. During its pilot phase, the People Skills programme will be available at no cost to small businesses (SMEs) and will equip them with a range of bespoke HR support including:

  • 1-2-1 guidance from experienced HR professionals who will work alongside businesses
  • A telephone helpline to discuss employment and skills issues
  • Online information and practical templates to help businesses save time when developing new employment processes
  • Local networking and group training events delivered on related people management and skills development topics.

The programme aims to support SMEs in building their leadership and management/HR capability to help them utilise the skills of their employees more effectively. It will also encourage SMEs to invest in young people through work experience/apprenticeships, investment in training and building links with local schools and colleges.

Two further People Skills pilots are being launched over Summer 2015 in Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow.

Anna Soubry MP, Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise who welcomes the initiative, comments: “Boosting productivity and giving young people the skills they need to get on in life are key priorities for the Government. We are also committed to making advice and support more easily available to our small businesses, so we welcome this scheme on both fronts.”

Launching the programme, former Business Minister, Jo Swinson, comments: “Productivity is one of the biggest challenges facing the UK economy, and improving the quality of management is part of the solution. Access to good HR support should not be restricted to large companies. Helping small businesses invest in and develop the skills of their workforces is crucial for their growth and future success.

“I’m delighted to support the launch of the new CIPD People Skills pilot programme which will provide free high quality HR and skills development support in Hackney, Stoke and Glasgow. It will be fascinating to learn from the results.”

CIPD Chief Executive Peter Cheese, comments: “The puzzle of the UK’s stagnant productivity performance has many components, but one crucial aspect that needs to be examined is how to help the UK’s small businesses raise their ambitions, boost their investment in people and make better use of skills in the workplace. Our People Skills programme is designed to help address this challenge, providing support where it’s needed to boost people management capability and ultimately performance and growth potential.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with J.P. Morgan to deliver the People Skills programme which is being rolled out through our key local partners; Hackney Council, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and Glasgow City Council. In each area the People Skills programme will be delivered via existing channels to ensure that it is not seen as another bolt-on skills initiative, but rather one that dovetails with existing business support.”

Hang Ho, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa for JPMorgan Chase Foundation, comments: “One of the biggest challenges for policy makers today is how to encourage SMEs to invest more in young people to access talent. But just as importantly, if SMEs are to become more productive and grow, they need to make the most of their existing workforce through better people management and development. Therefore, we are delighted to support the People Skills programme and look forward to partnering with CIPD and other stakeholders to add to the thriving ecology of business support to enable SMEs to raise their game, to grow and get the most out of their people.”

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Hackney Council said: “Hackney has one of the highest concentrations of small and medium sized businesses in the whole of the UK. It is incredibly important that Hackney’s growing community of small businesses maintain their global reputation for creativity and innovation across the many different sectors found in our local economy.

“Working in partnership with the CIPD and J.P. Morgan, Hackney is offering an innovative free resource that businesses can tap into with one-to-one advice and workshops on how to manage and grow a team, how to improve productivity, and how to effectively connect with business opportunities. This is just one initiative amongst many that we are launching to help support our local business community grow.”​

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