From education to employment

Social Fund Seeks to Engage SMEs in Training Opportunities

As the UK continues its 6 month Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Scotland’s Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) continue to enjoy EU funding allocated to help their employees into college-supported education and training. This stems from a European Social Fund (ESF) backed programme headed by Glenrothes College.

Enhancing College/SME Blended Learning Networks (ECOSME) is a major new research and development initiative that will seek to identify the financial, cultural and broader access barriers that SMEs and their employees encounter as obstacles to skill development. The initiative will ultimately engage SMEs and colleges in more flexible approaches to work based learning.

The Scottish Sector Unites

The project, launched in 2004, is funded under the ESF’s objective 3 programme which focuses resources on tackling long term unemployment, improving training, education and counselling for lifelong learning and encouraging entrepreneurship and adaptability in the workplace. The study encompasses the work of the Scottish Further Education Unit (SFEU), Learndirect Scotland and nine other institutions. It is intended to ensure that SMEs benefit from the potential of eLearning and blended learning to deliver workforce development available at the institutions involved.

The project seeks to improve practice and expand knowledge on both the college and SME side by addressing and re-evaluating the “learning preparedness” of the workforce, identifying the skills needs of learning facilitators and reviewing change management needed to ensure that both College and staff can respond to the challenges of making most effective use of eLearning in working with SMEs.

Glenrothes College hope that further education institutions and SMEs will not be the only beneficiaries from the ESF funded research and that their findings will be shared with, and have some influence upon, the decision making of three important groups: those who support learning, those who determine policy and set funding regimes and those charged with management and leadership in education and training.

The project will culminate with a dissemination programme at the end of October.

Michael Lloyd

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