Sunday, May 15, 2016

Are you a small business seeking Australian government funding for growth?

How can your small business access government funding?

There are regrettably many small business owners around Australia who are simply unaware of the government assistance that is available to them ….. Are you one of them? ...... Are you aware for example, of government funding that is available through the Industry Skills Fund.

The Australian government Business website states that ….”A highly skilled workforce is a priority for Australia. Employees that can adapt to technological and structural change can help their business to take advantage of growth opportunities that can emerge” 

Towards that end, the Fund is supporting the provision of Skills Advice and Training Grants. One of the agencies that have been commissioned as a federal government partner to provide free independent expert skills advice is Chisholm Institute (located in both metro and regional areas around Victoria).  

However there are a range of various partners you can connect with located all around Australia 

The role of the adviser is to assist your small or medium size business to identify skills or resource gaps that are needed to support future growth opportunities – and to offer you guidance in determining whether you meet the eligibility requirements of the Fund. And if so, they can help you with preparing and submitting an application for this funding.

I recently spoke with one such Industry Adviser, from Chisholm Institute,  Paul Ross. I asked Paul some questions about the Fund and how to access training grants …..
  1. Paul, can you briefly explain to our readers a bit about the Industry Skills Fund?
Sure Brian, the Industry Skills Fund is a Federal Government initiative which is being administered at the State level.  The Fund is designed to assist eligible business with training costs connected to business growth and who are ineligible to source training assistance from other government funds such as the Victorian Training Guarantee (VTG).
The amount of funding assistance varies depending upon their number of FTE’s  (full time employee’s) under a single ABN.  Businesses will be required to contribute towards the costs of training at the following rates.

Micro Business (0 – 4 FTE employees) – 25%
Small Business (5 – 19 FTE employees) – 34%
Medium Business (20 – 199 FTE employees) – 50%
Large Business (200+ FTE employees) – 75%

  1. What criteria would a small business owner need to satisfy to be eligible to receive funding?
Eligibility requirements are:
·       An active ABN operating for at least 3 years
·       A solvent enterprise which has submitted BAS statements for the last 3 consecutive years
·       Is registered for GST 
·       Has an identifiable growth opportunity which is a departure from business as usual.  The Fund will assist with training costs associated with the business taking up the growth opportunity.
  1. Can you explain Chisholm’s role in the process?
Chisholm is a Network Partner with the Department of Education and employs a number of Industry Skills Advisers who assist business with the process of firstly ensuring the business is eligible, clarifying the growth opportunity, assisting with making enquiry to the Fund, writing a comprehensive Skills Report of the business based on the growth and assisting with locating relevant training and training providers.  The Advisers can provide advice and assistance with the Funding Application process as well. 
  1. Could you give us a few examples of small business owners that have successfully  applied and received funding?
For privacy reasons Brian, individual businesses cannot be named, but business types which have applied and have been approved for funding range from micro, individual operators up to medium sized businesses of over 50 staff.  The training programs have been simple to complex depending on the individual business needs.  Training can be short or long term and businesses can include future training if the growth will involve an increase in staff numbers who may need to be recruited and then trained.  The process is reasonably flexible and the business has choice of training provider.
  1. So what are the steps involved with applying – and what’s the likely time frame for approval?
The first step is to ensure that the eligibility criteria can be met and that the growth opportunity exists.  Businesses can make an application on their own or with the help of an Adviser.  A business which is aware of the training they need and know where to source it can make the application on their own.  From enquiry stage to being approval for Funding has an average timeline of between 6 and 10 weeks.

Thanks to Paul, for the above information.

I am aware of medium size businesses that have submitted applications for funding of between $5,000 and $10,000 for training in skills such Management Skills, Tender Writing Skills, Project Management Skills and also Business Marketing Skills. One of the essential requirements for any training that is to be approved for funding is that there are concrete learning outcomes that will underpin genuinely improved workplace capability. I hope this article has perhaps pointed you in the right direction for accessing these training grants .... after all, it is our taxes which help to make these grants available.

About the author - 
Brian Carroll is the founder of the Melbourne corporate training company, Performance Development  He is a psychologist by background and has more than 20 years experience working in the field of management training. His passion is to help people develop the mindset and skills they need to achieve their goals, both in business and life. .