More than 98% of businesses in the UK employ less than 50 people. These small micro businesses generally reject participating in conventional training or face barriers to doing so. Those that do participate in training feel driven by compliance (such as health and safety issues) rather than by an interest to develop or adapt business practice to improve profitability.
ELearn 2 Work is a UK focused, but also transnational, EQUAL action research programme to explore and make recommendations to policy-makers and practitioners on how e-learning could accelerate workforce development within small and micro firms. Using a demand side approach, and engaging continuously with both employers and employees, a better understanding will emerge of small firm learning cultures, and how e-developers and trainers could refine their approach to better match SME needs. After creating an e-learning Standard with innovative equality and diversity sensitivity, the DP's work is culminating in a new academy dedicated to building professional capacity and informing policy-makers.
The overall aim of the project is to enable small and micro firms (including social enterprises) to be more competitive, and employees of SMEs to improve their employment potential, by identifying ways to improve the use of ICT and e-learning to deliver learning to SMEs. The project places particular emphasis on identifying ways to support disadvantaged SMEs, sectors and employees to enable SME owner-managers and their employees to embrace business-critical learning more effectively in order to improve their workplace performance and subsequently identify the developing role of e-learning.
- To support stakeholders within three broad categories; small and micro size organizations, content and software developers, and policy-makers, mainstream funders, intermediaries and other agencies working with the target groups.
- To make recommendations to policy-makers and practitioners on how e-learning could accelerate workforce development within SMEs and their supply chains. The action research has involved continuously working with both employers and employees. From this a better understanding has emerged of learning cultures, and how e-developers, trainers, SSCs and trade associations could refine their approach to better match SMEs needs, for example:
Providing advice as to the needs and wants of SMEs
Identifying SME e-learning barriers
Identifying SMes preferred e-learning methods
Making recommendations for the creation of new and demand-led specific e-learning materials
Evaluating the constraints and potential for e-learning as a training and learning medium within SMEs
Providing a greater understanding of the underlying reasons why SMEs reject training interventions.
learning approaches that enhance workforce development, backed by a quality standard
piloting of an e-learning academy for professional trainers.
disadvantaged SMEs and employees in these specific sectors:
- Food and their supply chains (manufacture and distribution)
- Chemical - wholesale and distribution of chemical/pharmaceuticals
- Manufacturing and engineering services within supply chains across the Yorkshire and Humber Region.
- Textiles and Apparel - including their engineering supply chains
- Sport and Leisure
- Social Enterprise - as a type of business which itself is emergent. This also reflects representatives of voluntary and community enterprises which are both a target sector, as well as commonly representing expertise and services to assist socially disadvantaged groups.