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Leonardo da Vinci pilot project "LINKS" No. ES-05-B-F-PP-149326

The Project no has its own website: 
http://www.fvem.es/contenido.asp?p=339  (FVEM)
http://www.ffeuskadi.net/  (FFE)

Links for SME: building bridges between vocational training and small and medium companies

First transnational meeting of “TRAINING LINKS FOR SME” project was held in Gijón on January 26th and 27th. It is about strategies to link the Professional qualification Systems to the Management of Small and Medium sized Companies in the metal sector.

Leadered by Federación Vizcaína de Empresas del Metal and coordinated by Fondo Formación Euskadi, TRAINING LINKS FOR SME project is financed by the European Commission within the framework of the Second Stage of Leonardo da Vinci program for Vocational Training and will be developed during 2005-2007 in a coordinated way in Spain, Romania, Poland, Lithuania and Finland.

We have constituted the Transnational Partnership “TRAINING LINKS FOR SME” to create bridges and set more intense links between the qualification systems and the models of enterprise management in the European metal sector.

The aim of the project is to develop and start tools encouraging knowledge and the use of the Professional Qualification Systems by the people in charge of the human resources of the small and medium sized companies in the metal sector. It is also aimed at the improvement of these training systems by means of the active participation of the companies.

To reach this objective, we try first to answer these questions: Which changes are occurring in training and qualification? Which in enterprise management? Which are the obstacles to permanent learning in people and companies? How could we help the people in charge of human resources management to improve their performance?

Why is the design and development of this project planned?

Traditionally, the productive system and the educational system have walked in a parallel way, each one developing Links for SME number 1 / january 06 Links for SME number 1 / january 06 2 innovations in its field but without getting in touch to cooperate and take profit from each other. From the policies of Vocational Training, changes are occurring to modernise the system, improve its quality and increase its interest.
On the other hand, the companies, mainly small ones are not reflected in these changes and are forced to renew their human resources management systems as a formula to keep competitive advantages and face the market and technological innovation challenges. Nevertheless, vocational training does not know these developments and use of new technologies. And small companies are at a disadvantage when incorporating new models of personnel management to their usual practices.

Summarising, the meeting of productive and educational systems is not good for any of them: no one gets profit from knowing what the other does. This is the reason for TRAINING LINKS FOR SME project: to create bridges between both systems, to encourage mutual knowledge, provoke synergies and look for joint answers to common problems.

Target group 

Small and medium sized industrial companies, mainly from the metal sector. Direction and Management. National and European devices of permanent learning. National qualification systems, competence evaluation and certification organistions. Training and Education organisations. Workers in small and medium sized companies, usually far from permanent learning Legal representation of workers and social agents.

What products are going to be generated? 

• A transnational survey on the main changes and trends at the level of institutional devices of permanent learning promotion (at European and national level) and at the level of human resources management.
• A European (transnational) identification of the main lacks and strengths of the people in charge of human resources in industrial small and medium sized companies (metal sector) about these elements. A detection of the main obstacles for the access to continuous training of the specifically present groups, who are far from this training in the metal sector.
• A guide for permanent learning in the small and medium sized companies in the metal sector. Its objectives are that the small and medium sized companies’ managers know and understand the external resources offered by national and European vocational training and permanent learning models; and that they understand the concepts of a competence management approach in the company.
• A document on Strategic and Operational Guidance to promote the link between the small and medium-sized companies in the metal sector and the national permanent learning systems.

Innovative aspects

The competence development and training management surveys and tools in the companies are usually adapted to the needs and features of the big companies. In general, these tools are too expensive and sophisticated to be fully operational in the small and medium- sized companies, which normally lack of specific human resources and training departments.

The project contributes to the professionalism of the Human Resources function in the small and medium companies, posts that are usually occupied by people without a specific qualification in the matter, usually with other operational functions in the company.

On the other hand, and thanks to the participation of diverse agents in the project (companies’ associations, training organisations, consultancy organisations, official qualification organisations, organisations linked to the national learning and continuous training systems…) the project constitutes itself a model of cooperation between agents, encouraging dialogue and the generation of integrating solutions.

The innovative results will be transferred to: people in charge of industrial small and medium-sized companies; Authorities related to continuous training; Organisations of continuous training; Enterprise organisations and trade unions Links for SME number 1 / january 06 3 First Transnational meeting Gijón on January 26th and 27th, 2006

The meeting held in Gijón on January 26th and 27th counted on the presence of the General Director of Professional Training in the Province of Asturias, Ms Paloma Saínz López and its objective was the presentation of TRAINING LINKS FOR SME project and the verification and approval of the working plan for the next months.

First, the MISION, CLIENTS, PRODUCTS AND RESULTS were debated and agreed. A joint conceptual framework was also agreed, setting the definition of the key concepts for the project, such as: “Not formal learning”, “Informal learning”, “Vocational training” (which includes “Initial vocational training and “Continuous training”), “Qualification system”, “Official professional referent”, “Recognition of informal learning”, “Competence”, “Competence for the management and development of human resources”. It is especially important to establish previously these definitions in order to get quality results, as all the performance and development of the project will start from them.

The working plan and the methodology to follow the next months were established to achieve the objectives laid down for this first stage:
• To analyse and describe the main changes occurred in the last 5 years and those expected in the medium term, related to concepts, methods, devices and tools for the management and development of competences: at institutional level (systems of Vocational training, continuous vocational training, qualification systems, recognition of competences – including informal learning); and at company level (competence management).
• To know the state of knowledge, the use and expectancies of the people in charge of the human resources and training in the industrial metal small and medium-sized companies relating these elements.
• To identify the main strong and weak points (in terms of competences) of the people in charge of human resources and training in industrial metal small and medium-sized companies, arriving at a transnational agreement on priorities.
• To identify the main obstacles to have access to continuous training for specific groups in the industrial sector (mainly in metal sector) and far from continuous training (aged more than 45, low qualified people…)

Press note

Gijón / Fundación Metal Asturias, Entrepreneurs from Biscay, Fondo Formación Euskadi and Europeans organisations star a pilot proyect called “Training links for SME” addressed to the Metal small and medium-sized companies.
Newspaper: La Voz de Asturias

Partners of the project

Federación Vizcaína de Empresas del Metal (FVEM) Spain Enterprise Organisation that groups the ensemble of the Iron and Steel Industry in Biscay (1,050 companies and about 40,000 workers). It manages sector plans of continuous training for the sector and takes part in technical projects within the context of different national and European programs.

Fondo Formación Euskadi S.L.L. Spain Company with human capital for people development and improvement of organisations. Activity areas: occupational and continuous vocational training, consultancy and advice to companies, management by competences, selection and evaluation of human resources, employment and training plans, local development projects, guidance, professional advice and support to learning.

Fundación para la Formación, la Cualificación y el Empleo en el Sector Metal de Asturias (Fundación Metal Asturias) Spain Organisation without profit purpose whose objective is the development of every kind of social and working activities in the metal sector in Asturias, as well as the development of transverse activities in other sectors. It develops services linked to the trainingemployment pairing and its activity includes occupational training, training plans, surveys and consultancy and projects and community initiatives.

ISE – Institutul dei Stiinte ale Educatei (Institute of Educational Sciences) Romania National public institute of research in the field of education. It takes active part in every kind of actions related with the educational reform in Romania and takes part in different programs of international cooperation.

Centrum Biznesu I Rozwoju (Development and Business Centre) Poland It is a company specialised in providing services to private companies, governmental and not governmental institutions. It takes part in projects of social policy and entrepreneurs. It also carries out consultancy actions, researches on labour market and training.

Kaunas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts Lithuania Non governmental organisation, without profit purpose, which represents the interests of the companies in Kaunas region. It groups more than 300 companies in different sectors. It has taken part, since 1994, in the organisation of qualification tests in the vocational training schools, involving the employers in the evaluation of competences and knowledge. It has a specific department specialised in vocational training.

Turku School of Economics and Business Finland National institution offering education at the levels of graduate, post graduate and continuous training, as well as consultancy services to companies. It has a management department, whose interest is focused in organisational structures and management of human resources, mainly in small and medium-sized companies.