New workforce development service will help SMEs improve their competitive edge

Monday, 25 February, 2013

A Manufacturing Workforce Development Service (MWDS) has been formed to specifically work with manufacturing SMEs to support and help them access the Australian government’s National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF).

Many SMEs have missed out on NWDF funding because they find it too difficult to find the time to work through their workforce skill needs or aren’t sure how to go about strategically planning their workforce development. This new free service has been designed to support SMEs to prepare workforce development plans that target the skills that are central to the business and can be used to pursue subsidised support training from the NWDF.

The MWDS was initiated by Manufacturing Skills Australia (MSA) and is being implemented collaboratively with the Ai Group and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU). It includes a team of eight dedicated expert advisors who will provide a free service to SMEs in NSW, Victoria and South Australia and work closely with them on identifying the critical skills in the business and then writing a workforce development plan. They will provide guidance on plan implementation, assist with funding applications to the NWDF and advise enterprises on how to select a suitable registered training organisation (RTO).

According to Doug Kimberley, MSA’s Project Coordinator, the service will strike the right chord for SMEs and provide a similar level of benefit as the Enterprise Connect program.

“In my experience, even larger manufacturing firms at times struggle with the concepts and applications of effective skills planning and training,” he said. “I believe the MWDS will take out a lot of the usual barriers and guesswork for businesses that they would otherwise find overwhelming. I expect that the uptake of this service and the corresponding applications for NWDF will grow significantly as a result.”

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