The voices of the skills and small business sectors have come together to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU signed by the Alliance of Sector Skills, the collective voice of the licensed Sector Skills Councils, and the Federation of Small Businesses, the UK’s leading business organisation, affirms a joint commitment to pursue the continuing growth and success of UK small businesses. The MoU also signifies a commitment by the two organisations to work together to ensure that the skills needs of small businesses are properly represented and articulated. 

Fundamental to the agreement between the two organisations is the belief in the value of small business and the need to work openly and cohesively in securing an optimum environment for their success. The ten key commitments reflect this aim and bring together a number of actions that will establish a joint approach to working, with the ability to monitor progress an integral part of the process. Communication between partners through focussed conferences, a Joint Strategic Working Group and consultation with both the public and politicians will play a major role in the programme of activities.

Commenting on the signing of the MoU, John McNamara, chief executive of the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils, said: “As UK companies look towards recovery, the Sector Skills Councils will help them to increase performance and productivity through an enhanced skills base. It is vital that small businesses are able to build skills in their workforce if we are to see a sustained recovery and working with the Federation of Small Businesses will be an important step towards achieving this goal.”

John Wright CBE, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The FSB welcomes this joint work between small businesses and the skills sectors as an important step towards getting the training needs of small businesses recognised and met. With small businesses having their own very specific skills needs being recognised it can only bring benefits to businesses and the individuals that work in them.”

Ten commitments of the MoU:

1. Both organisations will work cooperatively to ensure that SSCs are supported to help them secure small business engagement with their activities.

2. Where an SSC experiences difficulty in securing such representation, the Alliance will approach the FSB for appropriate help and support.

3. The FSB & Alliance will establish a joint strategic working group to help advance small business skills across the UK.

4. Each organisation will establish mutual links to and from their respective websites.

5. Both organisations will establish arrangements to publicise events, conferences, and other open meetings to their respective memberships.

6. Each organisation will discuss the possible opportunities for speaker slots at their respective national conferences or fringe meetings.

7. Both organisations will work together on responses to public consultations in areas where there is a clear mutual advantage to represent small business’ skills issues on a joint basis.

8. Both organisations will host an annual joint Parliamentary reception to highlight the skills needs and the impact of small businesses in the economy.

9. Both organisations will produce a joint annual review of progress in the small business arena on skills and productivity.

10. Both organisations will create and agree a joint action plan for activity which will be discussed and agreed at the Joint Strategic Working Group. The group will carry out formal reviews of the action plan on a quarterly basis to ensure continuing value and impact.