I’ll make a short introduction and overview of the project. Afterwards we will present good practices identified in the project; display a short visual presentation and finally a list of recommendations we delivered to the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.
HOBETUZ (The Basque Foundation for Continuous Professional Training) is a tripartite entity composed of the Basque Government, entrepreneurs organizations (CONFEBASK ) and trade unions in charge of financing continuous training of all SMEs in the Basque Country.
HOBETUZ aim is to promote interest in continuous training among companies, industrial and educational centers, through an efficient direction and management of the continuous training schemes and providing funds. On a more general level we aim at facilitating changes in human resources management and contributing to social and economic progress.
Hobetuz has invariably been of the opinion that continuous training is a crucial factor contributing to competitiveness. We noticed there are crucial ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CHANGES that directly affect continuing training management in SMEs. Thus, we had come up with the idea to share our experiences and exchange good practice examples with some EU partners in order to analyse this scenario .
5 organizations of 4 countries have taken part in this project development
• HOBETUZ (Basque Country Foundation for Continuing Vocational Training CVT)-SPAIN. (Tripartite Foundation (HOBETUZ).
• PRACODAWCY RZECZYPOSPOLITEJ POLSKIEJ: Employers of Poland is the oldest, the largest and the most representative organisation of employers in Poland.
• EUROFORMES, Inc. is one of the leaders in field of euro funds consulting in Slovakia that also offers educational services both in Slovakia and abroad.
• Buurtsuper.be. Buurtsuper.be (former VDV, Nationaal verbond der Voedingsdetaillisten) vzw is the UNIZO federation for the independent food retail and represents the interests of independent food retailers, from small self-employers to big independent supermarkets.
• PMO vzw (Personeels- en Managementopleidingen voor KMO’s) is a private, specialised training center for SMEs. PMO vzw develops its own training material and trains shop managers as well as personnel of independent retail stores
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for a significant part of all EU Member State economies. As SMEs constitute a large proportion of each Member State’s and generate a large share of total employment, their potential economic role has more and more often been a subject of discussion.
It is well-known that continuing vocational training (CVT) is a strategic domain in lifelong learning policies. It can benefit individual workers by enhancing their career development and skills base, which also benefits the employers and can contribute to the modernization of business production.
Statistics show that CVT is less likely to be available to employees working in SMEs than to those in large companies.
Project partners acknowledge the importance of enhancing the competences in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in order to respond to the current and future trends and needs of the labor market. Nowadays, there are crucial ECONOMICAL AND SOCIAL CHANGES that directly affect the continuing training management in SMEs:
• economic/financial crisis;
• ageing workforce;
• rapid development of technology;
• climate change and,
• accelerating pace of changes.
In this current economic and social context, SMEs must face important challenges related to continuing training. Partners made proposals and recommendations for updating the management models applicable to CVT to the times of social change (migration, training low-skilled and aged people) and economic changes (administration cost cuts,) on how to move towards an updated model of training management. Those social and economic changes have a direct and profound effect on a wide range of aspects of continuing training in SMEs .
We have focused our attention on 7 topics:
• skills development in SMEs
• making training benefits visible
• integrating older employees/ageing workers
• validation of informal skills
• Training Needs Assessment
• funding training in SMEs
• social partners involvement in CVT
We have shared, discussed, analyzed, and described proposals and recommendations related to these thematic topics together with a number of best practice examples.
The endproduct a Practical handbook contains:
– background information on: challenges for SMEs, the importance of SMEs, demographic change, the importance of continuing training and challenges of continuing training managemrnt in SMEs;
– an analysis of each topic identifying the main challenges and obstacles that SMEs encounter in continuing training and indication how they can be overcome.
– sets of best practice examples with a standardized description of each case study.
Best practice is the key element of the Practical Handbook.
We are of the opinion that the solutions we present are applicable to a huge variety of stakeholders through a long term period. We expect that this work will contribute to developing new solutions in lifelong learning for SME employees. It would definitely help entrepreneurs to get through the difficult times European economy is facing nowadays.
Due to the challenges and trends in continuing development of skills of the European workforce it is evident that SMEs are also interested in innovative practices, solutions, and opportunities in the area of Continuing Training.
We also involved a number of experts in our discussions. Let me mention them now:
Helen Hoffman, Advisor Social Affairs of UEAPME the European Association of Crafts, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
Martina Ni-Cheallaigh and Ann Vanden Buckle, European Commission DG Education and Culture of the European Commission
Mr. Bruno Van Pottelsberghe – ULB – Solvay Business School of Brussels
Ms. Anna Mroczkowska of Polish National Supporting Institution
Ms. Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak of Educational Research Institute of Poland.
Ms Ewelina Iwanek of OIC Poland.
We visited European Commission and handed over to Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner a WHITE PAPER called ‘CVT in SME’s’ No employability of older workers without Continuous Vocational Training and a list of 10 key recommendations that we will present to you in detail during this conference.