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National Composites Centre Support Sector Growth with Mentor Scheme

  • Tuesday, 11th March 2014
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

The National Composites Centre (NCC) states it was recently awarded funding from the BIS’ Sector Mentoring Challenge Fund to run a pilot to help support the growth of our sector by linking 10 Mentors and 10 Mentees to work with each other over a 12 month period beginning in April 2014.

According to the NCC, mentoring has been shown to be an effective way to help companies grow but it is something few SMEs consider, in part because most do not know how to go about finding a suitable Mentor, particularly one who understands their sector. It says that four out of five SMEs say they want to grow, but only a third actually do. Firms receiving external advice are more likely to grow yet fewer than 50% of SMEs seek any support each year.

Stacey Downton, Business Development Coordinator for NCC, “Whilst the attractions of such an arrangement to the Mentees are clear, it is not so immediately obvious why successful business people should become unpaid Mentors. In practice, Mentors often gain a real sense of satisfaction from helping another person address issues in which they have expertise. Mentoring is also a form of Continuing Professional Development, employers can use this as an example of Corporate and Social Responsibility and in addition, NCC Champions Mentoring Programme will provide all Mentors with a fully-funded place on the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs’ certificated Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring Workshop.”

The NCC says that its Composite Champions Mentors are successful business people from the composites industry. All NCC Composite Champions Mentors will have undertaken the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs’ certificated Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring Workshop (funded by the NCC and taking place on Monday 17th March in Bristol) and, along with their experience, knowledge and expertise, will be able to help develop and guide Mentees into the world of composites.

The NCC hopes people will consider becoming a Mentor which it says, apart from a one day training course and the initial meeting with the Mentees, could involve as little as 60 minutes a month of engagement by means of telephone, Skype or face-to-face meetings.

As a pilot, it is proposing to focus initially on a small number of primary topics:

  • Health and Safety – Composites UK will support mentoring of pilot implementations of a composites sector Health and Safety Plan.
  • Technical – includes process improvement, design, optimisation and simulation.
  • Business Improvement & Innovation – includes signposting to support funding, collaboration opportunities and New Product Development.

The NCC explains it is looking for people who can contribute in these areas, and is open to other areas of specialism for other topics. As a Mentor, you will be expected to listen, encourage, share your experience, and give help, advice and guidance where appropriate. Mentors should be good communicators, excellent listeners, able to show a sympathetic approach to sensitive issues and maintain confidentiality.

As a Mentor, you will be expected to undertake a day’s accredited mentoring training on Monday 17th March 2014.

As a Mentee, the NCC says you can expect encouragement, help, advice and guidance in your chosen domain. The programme will be tailored to suit you and where your Mentor cannot help you directly, you will be signposted to other sources of support.

If you are interested please contact Stacey Downton at stacey.downton@nccuk.comby Friday 14th March, 2014. The programme will begin in April and run for a year with the main matchmaking event taking place on Thursday 20th March.

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