Free online training to boost SME mentoring

A new online training tool designed to connect thousands of experienced business mentors with small and medium sized enterprises has been launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The free tool forms part of the Government's Get Mentoring scheme which aims to recruit 15,000 new mentors to help entrepreneurs realise their full potential, and will offer mentors an online version of its training workshops that are held around the country.

Over 3,000 mentors have already signed up for the scheme since it began in November last year, 2,000 of which have completed the training courses. It is hoped that the online tool's ease of access will encourage thousands more to join the growing network of volunteer business mentors who can provide real and invaluable experience in the business environment.

Business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk, who once worked as a mentor himself, described the mentoring process as a 'rewarding' experience and encouraged business people of all ages to get involved.

He said: "This training tool is vital to help build our growing network of trained mentors. Mentoring is a very effective way for aspiring entrepreneurs to get the help and support they need to succeed. It enables business people to harness the knowledge and expertise of those who have been there and done it before."

The free tool is provided by the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) and is backed by various partners including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the National Enterprise Network (NEN) and the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

Phil Orford, FPB's chief executive, said: "We believe there is a rich supply of would-be mentors working in businesses across the country, willing to share their years of experience. The online course supports a consistent and quality approach to volunteer mentoring which we think is essential for new and growing businesses. We are confident that FPB members will jump at the chance to get involved, not only to support the next generation of entrepreneurs, but to develop their own business skills and experience."

Entrepreneurs can access the community of available mentors recruited by Get Mentoring through www.mentorsme.co.uk.