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Business Learning Accounts

10th April 2005

Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) has announced the introduction of Business Learning Accounts (BLAs), targeting small businesses in the area.

Businesses across other parts of the Highlands have already used BLAs to broaden their product range, to establish a market for new crops, for specialised survey training and to diversify and establish sector "best practice".

The aim of BLAs is to act as a catalyst in changing the culture of small businesses to invest in training and skills development, clearly making the link between workforce development and business development.

CASE will provide 50 per cent of eligible costs - up to 7,500 - for individual businesses wishing to participate in this programme.

To be eligible, the business may employ up to 50 people, and be able to identify clear business growth potential and improved performance through investment in the training and learning of both managers and workers.

To help businesses to consider the options open to them, a Business Health Check will be arranged by CASE where advice, information and guidance will be made available.

Anne Sutherland, head of skills development at CASE, said: "This is a pilot programme aimed at businesses who may not previously have considered investing in skills and learning as a way of helping their business to grow and improve performance.

"We are particularly keen to hear from businesses which may not have been in touch with CASE before. The initiative will run until March 2006, but for businesses to get maximum benefit from the initiative, we need to hear from them as soon as possible, so we can get the ball rolling. We would hope that businesses would begin to see the impact of the investment by the end of the pilot year."

The Company Skills Grant is still available to businesses which are not eligible for a Business Learning Account. Businesses applying for the grant are encouraged to take a longer term view of their business skills needs and develop a year long plan.

For further information or advice on either scheme visit the website at http://www.hie.co.uk/case/skills_businesses.htm or contact CASE on telephone: 01847 896115.

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