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Raising awareness about business support is vital for SMEs

06 February 2015

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has called on the UK Government to do more to build awareness of schemes to support manufacturing among small and medium enterprises (SMEs). 

The IET says that 50% of SMEs are unaware of Government reforms to apprenticeship schemes, while 56% do not know about the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).

Margaret Wood, an IET member said: “There is a plethora of schemes available to help manufacturers grow their business, but many smaller businesses are simply not aware of them.  The temptation is to keep launching new schemes, when in reality it would be better to put more effort into marketing and promoting the schemes already out there.

 “Similarly, renaming schemes is unhelpful as it means that they do not become an established brand that SMEs recognise. SMEs are also unlikely to benefit from manufacturing schemes that offer short-term solutions. They need long term strategies and a consistent business environment in order to survive.”

Practical ways that the IET believes the Government could help include:
 • Simplifying the application process and reducing long lead times, as SMEs lack the resource and time to fill out the complicated forms.
•  Helping SMEs to form local communities that work together – and can help keep each other informed about available schemes.
• Making the benefits of schemes clear – unlike larger companies, SMEs do not have the time or resource to explore support schemes in detail.
•  Introducing a local representative with successful case studies who can help to introduce SMEs to viable schemes.

Sahar Danesh, IET principal policy advisor for manufacturing, said: “SMEs are responsible for about 90% of the UK’s innovation… It is crucial that they receive the right business support. We need a clear business strategy on how to engage SMEs, making sure funding is put into marketing support schemes effectively.”

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