Get professional training at work – and it’s free

By now some regular readers may be getting the impression I\'m a cheapskate.

By now some regular readers may be getting the impression I’m a cheapskate.

I’m always banging on about freebies – and here I go again. But here’s a promise: you’ll like this idea as much as the free website for brokers at www.my localadviser.co.uk.

Am I any different to anyone else in seeking something for free? The answer must be an emphatic no. But without digging a hole for myself with some seemingly feeble excuse about why this is the case, let me explain briefly why the route to freebies is becoming more and more appealing.

Like most consumers, I have been ripped off by companies that have failed to give me value for money for a service for which I have paid. Try getting hold of a decent computer engineer when your system fails. Believe me it’s a nightmare. Few know what they are doing and software is evolving at such a rate of knots that it is difficult for many of these engineers to keep abreast with developments.

With increased pressure for brokers to learn new technology skills to apply online, communicate by email and generally use e-commerce as a business tool, there is a need to source IT training providers and pay for such services. This is where I can help you gain good professional training at your workplace and carried out by highly qualified people – free.

Many of you from the old school will have come across Business Link before now.

Business Link is a type of quango that is community-based nationwide and exists to assist businesses with all types of problems. In my experience this should be the first point of contact in your search for a local but free IT training provider. Business Link has a database of contacts where European funding has been allocated for projects.

For those readers fortunate enough to live in the Midlands, you can visit www.it-futures.com as it has the funds and resources available to assist smaller firms with bespoke technology training. Just as with any kind of freebie, there are strict criteria to be met but having said that, the consultants that pay you the initial visit are in general extremely helpful.

They explain that they will advise you to integrate various software, hardware and technology, if necessary and relevant, into your current operation in parallel with the IT training.

The consultant then endeavours to find out what you want out of the five-day training course with the equipment you have and a remit for the project is drawn up and signed by both parties.

Before you have a panic attack about taking a week off for training, you’ll learn that the training can in most cases be staggered over a period to suit your needs, and takes place at your premises.

And your premises can be your home because the scheme recognises that a significant number of small business players don’t go into an office simply to keep overheads down. Another good thing about this kind of scheme is it will legally loan you sophisticated software for you to try out for six months to see if it enhances your business. If it makes a difference you can usually buy it at a discount.

I can’t sing the praises of these types of schemes highly enough. They are sometimes the only way for small businesses to afford to get up to speed with technological change.

To save disappointment I must at this stage advise you that not all areas are covered by this type of scheme. Funding is allocated by post code and those deemed worthy get help. However, they are nationwide and can make a big difference to you as an individual and to the bottom line of your company.

The investment cost is five days of your life. The product cost is free.