Diane Bosdorf
Education Journalist

Diane Bosdorf has worked as an editor in education with the Victorian State Government and in the VET sector

Diane Bosdorf
Education Journalist

Diane Bosdorf has worked as an editor in education with the Victorian State Government and in the VET sector

For small businesses, the decision to invest in education can be a difficult one. Smarter has compiled some upskilling, education and training options for small business.

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1. Registered training organisations (RTOs)

RTOs provide training that results in qualifications recognised and accepted by industry and other educational institutions throughout Australia. A register of RTOs can be found on the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Industry website, Skills and Training. For businesses looking for education in specialised areas (such as beauty, design or massage), RTOs can provide a cost effective, tangible benefit to your business.

endota spa, established on the Mornington Peninsula in 2000, has made great use of upskilling and training through RTOs and vocational education and training (VET) centres across Australia.

Wendy Hood, long time endota spa franchisee in Mornington and Red Hill, says the importance of constantly learning can’t be understated.

“Further education and training is essential for my business. Learning and improving not only benefits customers but is also a way to keep up staff morale.

“[Through education] we discovered the importance of ensuring our entire business was up on the latest spa techniques and methodologies. endota provides comprehensive in-house training and staff attend regular Dermalogica training in sales, beauty techniques and products.

“Customers are confident in our trained and personable staff and the business remains vibrant and on top because ongoing education and training keeps us there.’

endota spa has also sent employees to RTOs such as the Australian College of Massage.

2. Master of business administration (MBA)

For larger businesses or professional services, an MBA may be more suitable. An MBA is renowned for providing the necessary tools for good management and leadership.

A former colleague of mine, Sarah, runs a small consulting company with primary focus on fair work practice and re-engagement. Undertaking an MBA at Melbourne Business School opened her mind to new possibilities and improved her business model.

“To say I’m a fan of staying on top of your game through education is an understatement,” she says.

“Education helps us stay engaged with the rapidly changing tapestry of business in a way that is manageable and actually enjoyable. Plus, for a small business like mine, the networking and relationship building that the MBA presented were opportunities I might otherwise never have had.”

Studying part-time over two years, she maintained her business and completed her MBA. Melbourne Business School offers a one-year intensive full-time MBA course, or two-year part-time course, with other reasonable course variations.

Monash University also has an MBA program which includes the Monash MBA aimed at emerging professionals, and the Monash Executive MBA for experienced professionals taking their careers to the next level.

Other options include La Trobe University’s MBA online, Torrens University, which has an online MBA available at various entry points, and Curtin University in WA where students complete a Professional Portfolio of 40 hours professional development. 

3. Vocational education and training (VET)

Tertiary education and training providing accredited training in job related and technical skills is called vocational education and training (VET). VET is most suited to more hands-on careers and industries, such as trades, retail, hospitality and technology.

To ease the financial burden, approved VET providers offer students access to VET FEE HELP, which aids in paying for all, or at least part of, student tuition costs. For employers wanting to see staff upskill, VET FEE HELP can go a long way to covering training expenses and therefore make the decision to train staff easier.

One such provider is BSchool, which boasts passionate, creative brilliant thinkers as the foundation for their courses, such as Carolyn Cresswell, founder of Carman’s Muesli; Adrian Giles of Hitwise; and Emma Isaacs, who’s achieved more than most people twice her age with Business Chicks, a popular social enterprise.

SMBs in hospitality looking to give more than money to their staff and boost their business, cannot go wrong with William Angliss Institute. The Institute has more than 70 years of excellence in hospitality and all things food, wine and travel. Students’ study four main streams – Foods, Tourism, Hospitality, and Events.

Melbourne Polytechnic’s (formerly NMIT) courses have a reputation for excellence, offering state-of-the-art facilities including a functioning restaurant, St Georges, at the Preston campus, and value for money across creative, analytic and practical fields. 

4. Get online

For proactive types who don’t want to break the bank, there are a number of not-for-profit organisations dedicated to delivering free education online, such as Khan Academy. The Academy was created by Salman Khan, an MIT and Harvard Business School graduate, and supplies a free collection of micro-lectures teaching subjects as diverse as medicine, economics, mathematics and art history.

Another provider is Coursera, which makes courses available for free from some of the world’s top universities. You won’t get a degree at the end, but you will have the skills to make positive differences in your business.

Interested in investigating further training?

Visit the Australian Government's training website to explore your options. 

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