engage magazine issue 001 spring \'06 - Page 48

48 TRAINING Interview Unusual As a director of One Spare Chair, Joy White oversees the running of the company’s vocational training programmes across the country. Here she shares with Samantha Watson, her work on the programme and explains the challenges she has faced with government funding bodies. Q Q The courses you offer are targeted towards individuals as well as organisations, can you tell me about the kind of training you provide? What difficulties have you encountered when approaching large organisations to secure training contracts? Q Since you co-founded the company in 2003 you mentioned that it has grown from strength to strength. So how did the idea of One Spare Chair come about? We offer vocational qualifications in Health and Social Care, Customer Service and Training. We also offer a unique suite of qualifications for the creative industries - ‘Creative 09’. With the creative courses, we found that the people who really wanted and needed to do the training didn’t have the money to pay, so we setup a not-for-profit making arm of the One Spare Chair group called The Regard Programme (Raising Expectations through Growth Achievement Respect and Direction). We use this company to attract funding so we can offer these courses free at the point of delivery. A Joy White Director One Spare Chair One Spare Chair came about because Craig Cordice, my business partner had a graphic design company but also wanted to do other things and at the time I was working in the field of learning and development but I was fed up working for someone else. We decided that it would be a sensible idea to set up a business together. Craig came up with the name One Spare Chair because it seemed to fit the things that we wanted to do, both now and in the future. A It’s not that we have trouble approaching them because people do buy in to our training. The difficulty is that much of the training, especially vocational training, is funded by the government through bodies such as the Learning Skills Council (LSC). What these funders will tend to do is allocate contracts (and the associated funding) to larger training providers. These providers will then sub contract the work to smaller organisations. However, some well funded providers then use their financial muscle to strangle the smaller business. It’s not unusual, for example, to wait nine months for payment of an invoice. I know quite a few small providers who have gone out of business because they have been locked into this unequal sub contracting relationship. A engage SPRING ISSUE 2006