Survey Project results related to HRD in Europe

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Developing learning organisation models in SME clusters
Concept Findings Challenge
Synopsis The baseline survey which was carried out among SME clusters in five countries includes the following findings related to learning and training:

(1) Learning by doing confirms to be the prevailing method of acquisition of know-how: in fact, on-the-job experience is considered as the most relevant way of acquiring “technical” knowledge, followed by “mentoring” (i.e. the advice and help from an experienced person) and the training courses for staff. The best results in terms of improvement of know-how and competencies have been recorded by the enterprises which have temporarily introduced experts in the firm or have incorporated new workers. The know-how existing among staff and the firms’ accumulated experience is transmitted in day-to-day business decisions frequently in informal way, i.e. through a communication system (mainly oral) which is implicitly understood by anyone who wants to use it. Formal rules and procedures are widespread and the participation in working committees is generally used.

(2) In spite of the growing importance of informal ways in acquisition and storage of know-how, training activities for staff still represent a cornerstone. The problems related to the access to training are more connected to the quality of the offer than to the quantity: the enterprises perceive these activities insufficiently tailored to their requirements or too time consuming, and these feelings seems to grow considering the future attitude. The quantity of supply does not seem to be an obstacle:  the range of programmes and the proximity of training centres (both private and public) are considered as satisfactory by practically all the firms with no training orientation.

(3) The lack of financial resources seems to be the main obstacle to the undertaking of training activities: More than half of the enterprises ask for public intervention in co-financing this kind of investment. Training oriented enterprises think that government (at local, regional, national or European scale) should support them in needs analysis and, above all, should involve them as much as possible in defining the contents of training programmes in order to make them more tailored to the real needs of the company (Sarcina 1998, pp. 47-50). 

Reference Further findings of the baseline survey related to the occupational trends and performance of the SMEs, the relationship between the companies and the socio-economic milieu in the clusters are set out in the final project report (Sarcina 1998). 
See also project info on DELOS.
Descriptors D-LO  EP03  EP04  EP10      E03b
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO