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    1. 1. Meeting business needs: VET and continuous training in SMEs Helen Hoffmann UEAPME Brussels, 19 May 2008 EESC Workshop: “ A new SMEs agenda for VET in the EU”
    2. 2. UEAPME <ul><li>European Association of Crafts, Small and Medium- sized Enterprises </li></ul><ul><li>99% of all companies in the EU are SMEs, and 92% are micro enterprises with fewer than 10 employees. </li></ul><ul><li>UEAPME is European Social Partner </li></ul><ul><li>UEAPME negotiates and signs agreements </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    3. 3. EU & international setting <ul><li>Challenges: - Globalisation </li></ul><ul><li>- Rapid technological change </li></ul><ul><li>- Demographic challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Key business and competitiveness issues particularly difficult for SMEs </li></ul><ul><li>Lisbon Strategy to make Europe most dynamic knowledge based economy in the world: </li></ul><ul><li>- Investing in human capital </li></ul><ul><li>- Promoting employability through flexicurity </li></ul><ul><li>- Lifelong learning </li></ul>
    4. 4. Response of European Social Partners <ul><li>Framework of Actions for the lifelong development of competencies and qualifications, 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>- identify and anticipate competences and qualifications needs; </li></ul><ul><li>- recognise and validate competences and qualifications; </li></ul><ul><li>- inform, support and provide guidance; </li></ul><ul><li>- mobilise resources </li></ul><ul><li>Joint Labour Market Analysis, 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>- ESP have opened negotiations on disadvantaged people furthest from the labour market to reach a Framework agreement </li></ul>
    5. 5. New European initiatives: EQF and ECVET innovative tools <ul><li>EQF and ECVET tools to improve comparison & validation of qualifications in Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Creates more transparency and enhances geographical and occupational mobility in Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Needs employers fully engaged and committed & involves the company as a key actor in the process of evaluation, recognition and validation of skills and competences </li></ul><ul><li>It can be useful for the management of competences within the company </li></ul><ul><li>It gives all the actors the possibility to reshape the education and training systems </li></ul><ul><li>Contributes to providing skills adapted to the needs of the labour market </li></ul>
    6. 6. SME company perspective: Qualifications need to meet business needs <ul><li>SMEs need better educated and trained employees to increase competitiveness and support growth </li></ul><ul><li>Productivity and performance needs to be improved by linking training to business strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of qualified workforce </li></ul><ul><li>- Mismatch between education and training programmes and labour market needs </li></ul><ul><li>- Lack of attractiveness of certain sectors where SMEs are predominant </li></ul><ul><li>- Poor status of VET towards pupils and parents </li></ul><ul><li>- Difficulty to hire and retain qualified employees </li></ul><ul><li>- Lack of entrepreneurship spirit </li></ul>
    7. 7. Role of SMEs in VET <ul><li>Main added value of VET is having a part of the curricula being done on the job helping to acquire practical experience </li></ul><ul><li>Best example is “dual” apprenticeship system which alternates between courses and a training period in a company </li></ul><ul><li>Main providers of VET are small businesses and crafts </li></ul><ul><li>VET play huge role in reinforcing social cohesion </li></ul><ul><li>Multitasking prevails in micro companies, excellent on the job training, rarely recognised! </li></ul>
    8. 8. Continuous training constraints for SMEs <ul><li>Limited financial resources to engage in continuous training </li></ul><ul><li>Time factor: Often daily business needs seen as more important </li></ul><ul><li>Organisational factor: absence of employees! </li></ul><ul><li>Training offer by external providers too generic and not tailor made – not adapted to SME needs </li></ul><ul><li>SMEs less aware of benefits of training for their business and workforce </li></ul>
    9. 9. External training provider - Example Austria WIFI <ul><li>- </li></ul><ul><li>-WIFI as core training provider for all workers, incl. managers and owners of small firms. </li></ul><ul><li>WIFI has 80 branches offering courses & training locally, direct and job related. </li></ul><ul><li>Courses flexible and specific on all business aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Majority of courses cover non-formal learning </li></ul><ul><li>Validation of informal learning </li></ul>
    10. 10. Government assistance for SMEs – UK example <ul><li>Small Firms initiative 2002-2006 : Subsidised skills audit to ensure more strategic approach towards training in very small firms (5-49 employees). </li></ul><ul><li>SFI offered initial skills needs analysis, after which business development plan was created to tackle identified skills gap and brokered training was arranged to address specific business needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation of SFI: </li></ul><ul><li>Almost half (46%) of firms in SFI reported improved productivity. </li></ul><ul><li>SFI changed organisation culture in favour of training and communication – linked firmly to business strategy </li></ul><ul><li>SFI was key to SME involvement – with little dead weight. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Conclusions Business needs & training <ul><li>Good quality in initial VET and continuous training are key for success of SMEs in the economy </li></ul><ul><li>2) VET curriculum should be geared towards labour market needs and particularly for SMEs and micro companies. </li></ul><ul><li>3) Lifelong learning requires shared commitment of all actors: employers, individuals and public authorities </li></ul><ul><li>4) SMEs need public support for financing lifelong learning and continuous training </li></ul><ul><li>5) Necessity of a sustained effort of governments to reform education and qualification systems in Europe that deliver skills adapted to business needs in a cost efficient manner </li></ul><ul><li>6) Training offers need to be adapted to SME needs </li></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li> Thank you for your attention! </li></ul><ul><li>Helen Hoffmann </li></ul><ul><li>Social Policy Adviser </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Tel: +32-(0)2 230 75 99 </li></ul><ul><li>Fax:+32 (0)22307861 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>