SMEs & family businesses ‘can better utilise education’

Informing SMEs & family businesses

We were delighted to support Sustainability: The challenge facing Scotland’s SMEs & family businesses, a seminar in Edinburgh on Friday 25 April organised by the Goodison Group in Scotland (GGiS) and Scotland’s Futures Forum (SFF). Each of the 70 delegates took away a copy of Informed Scotland, giving them information about the wealth of learning and skills activity taking place right across the landscape which can be used to enlighten and develop businesses and their employees.

According to conference papers, 99.3% of all private sector enterprises in Scotland are SMEs and 63% of these are family businesses. New business birth rate is extremely healthy, but sustainability and growth ‘could be much better’. 

Donald Jarvie of SFF commented that SMEs ‘can better utilise education’ for sustainability. It’s a win-win situation: learning and skills development is crucial for business survival and vital if society is to retain the knowledge and expertise each business contains. 

Graham Smith of the University of Strathclyde explained that an underestimated social cost of business failure is the often ‘completely wasted’ knowledge and know-how it has accumulated. Strathclyde is involved in a European Transfer of Knowledge-Transfer of Human Capital project, tackling the EU-wide SME issue of business transferability.

The unique challenges and rewards of running a family business were vividly brought to life by Creative Training Unlimited actors, followed by a rousing plea from Martin Stepek, Scottish Family Business Association, for a concerted campaign to highlight their role and needs. He wants to see ‘every university in Scotland providing education for family business’.

Universities already involved include:

Success through Succession project was run by Glasgow Caledonian University, and in other parts of the UK, Lancaster University runs The Centre for Family Business, and Regent’s University, London offers a Family Business pathway in its Global Management MA, recognised by the Chartered Management Institute. However, as GGiS/SFF suggest, ‘we appear to be lagging behind America and parts of Europe’ where much more learning support is available.

The seminar is to be repeated on 9 May at University of the Highlands & Islands in Inverness.
Delegates who picked up a hard copy of Informed Scotland at the event can email [email protected] to request a pdf version with links enabled.


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