Partners in the STRAT Training project worked together to provide strategy-oriented training for SME managers and, as part of a series of final products and results, delivered a pedagogical guide entitled Advising Farms - Tools for Training in Strategy. The guide begins by introducing the original projects and its ambitions for upskilling those that work professionally with very small enterprises (VSEs). Following this, five separate chapters are provided each dedicated to the introduction of a different strategic development tool. The five tools (AVEC / PERFEA / RISK WHELL / CLEAR VISION / SAFARI) are those that have proven successful in the past, with each confirming a strategic development approach, ambitions for change and a distinct methodology, process or series of steps to enable successful use of the tool. At the end of each chapter, a short comprehension test is provided, aimed mainly at those learning to use the tool for the very first time and focusing on confirming levels of understanding.
References to developing human resources exist but are few in number: in one case, under the ‘risk wheel’ there is mention of generational change as a potential risk and of the need to consider this in strategic terms. The product is novel and definitely brings forth some potential for work-oriented learning and development (CPD) for those working to support business (and strategic) development in the targeted agriculture and farming sector. Equally, there is definite merit for the targeted end beneficiaries, namely owners and managers of VSEs, with some potential to extend use of these tools to also focus on skills development and WBL for new and existing staff. There are some pre-conditions for those wishing to make use of the listed tools. In some cases, the proposed tool (AVEC, PERFEA) is copyrighted. In other cases, use of a specific tool might require a license for use. In the short-term, however, staff working on business support might consider the Handbook as a prompt for additional training investment. There is also the potential to build bespoke tools that centre on some of the proposed techniques. Finally, there is definite room for initiating and extending discussions on strategic development, with small (and very small) enterprises, to incorporate issues relating to human resources, skills development and WBL.