Skills Development and Training in SMEs

image of Skills Development and Training in SMEs

The report discusses the results of the OECD “Leveraging Training and Skills Development in SMEs” (TSME) project which examines access to training by SMEs across seven regions in six OECD countries: New Zealand, Poland, Belgium, UK, Turkey and Canada. The book analyses the policy issues related to both low access by SMEs, and how to recognise the increasing importance of informal training and skills development methods. The book looks at how both formal and alternative ways of training and skills development interact and identifies impacts at three levels; for the firm and employees; for the industry; and for the local area where the firm is located.

The report pays special attention to the development of entrepreneurial skills and the emerging area of “green skills”. This focus is not just because ‘green skills’ represent the next new training opportunity – the de-carbonisation of economies that will occur over the coming decades represents an industrial transformation on the scale of the microelectronics revolution - but in many ways the response to the green economy is at an emerging stage- this means we have the opportunity to implement lessons from previous successful practices into a skill development area that will have enormous reach.


Learning by doing – best practices in training and skills development

This chapter examines the results of case study interviews conducted with sample small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) within each country, to better understand what training and skill development activities are undertaken by SMEs, and the impacts of these on the business. The global financial crisis, and climate change, are investigated in terms of their impact upon SMEs’ training arenas, particularly marketing, recruitment and job design. Motivators and challenges to training provision and skill development are investigated in depth, including the benefits of having training plans, or the expenses associated with training, not only in paying tuition fees or hiring external trainers, but in lost employee work time. Formal versus informal education and training are investigated, with the importance of in-house training as well as cross-organisational collaborations and exchanges being emphasised. Policy implications resulting from this analysis are explored in detail, including: impacts of the global financial crisis on SMEs in terms of training; the importance of structured training systems and formal training programmes; use of alternative training methods by SMEs; climate change impacts on SMEs, including the dichotomy of benefits accruing to some companies but financial burdens being suffered by others; and informal training systems and the need to involve SMEs in policy development.


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