Network F Supporting the adaptability of firms and employees to structural economic changes and the use of information technology and other new technologies.
Project name Renovator – Centre for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
Project number F0101

Project description

The general objective of the Partnership is to improve adaptation skills and competitiveness of the beneficiaries: small and medium-sized enterprises, employees aged 45 or older, and women coming back from maternity leaves. At the initial stage of the project the Partnership identified the challenges the beneficiaries face on the labour market.

Many small and medium-sized enterprises strive harder and harder for growing their competitiveness, but the sector's restructuring is much more painful than in the case of big corporations. Due to limited financial potential of such companies, their lay-offs do not include protective social measures. Market does not offer simple and inexpensive solutions supporting restructuring processes and human resources management. Small and medium-sized enterprises cannot successfully compete with larger companies for another reason: they do not take advantage of the opportunities modern IT infrastructure offers.

The firms usually do not employ skilled staff who would, in a planned and coordinated manner, take care of the company's technological development that supports business activities. Moreover, they do not have funds sufficient for implementing effective ICT systems and remain on the outer edge of IT and communication technologies and latest market trends. Thus, they are the first group of beneficiaries the Partnership targets their actions at. Other include employees of small and medium-sized enterprises older than 45 who might be laid-off for some reasons on the employer's side or for insufficient qualifications, especially in the IT field. Elderly employees also have less opportunities of re-employment due to insufficient flexibility, limited access to training courses, and a lack of education programs tailored to their needs and learning capacity. Finally, there are women who resume professional activity after a prolonged maternity leave and have difficulties with re-adjusting to the situation. The reason for the difficulties is that during the break they lost their professional skills or did not update their knowledge to match the needs of the company and modern labour market. Extended periods of professional inactivity break links with one's own professional environment, discourage women from updating their skills and deprive them of the access to their firms' educational offer.

The Partnership is to support the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises and their employees to adjust to structural changes in the economy and to use IT technology and other new technological solutions. For that purpose, „Renovator", a model training and consultancy centre was established. It offers comprehensive tele-training, tele-consulting, and coaching services in the fields of IT and entrepreneurship. The Centre's activities will be tested, and its performance verified on a group of 450 beneficiaries: 350 persons aged 45 or older (employees in danger of redundancy, persons under outplacement programs, employees who lost their jobs while cooperating with „Renovator", persons in difficult situation in terms of age and poor IT and communication technology skills), women after maternity leaves, and 100 entrepreneurs and managers from small and medium-sized companies.

The Centre's training programs and activities are based on the latest research and development findings. Reaching for innovative technologies in order to support adaptation skills of small and medium-sized enterprises and their employees as well as involving the authors of the technologies in the project will contribute to eliminating the barriers the beneficiaries face.

Research workers of the institutions taking part in the project will be appropriately trained for working with the beneficiaries. The Centre's operation will be assessed regularly by representatives of the entities covered by the project, which will ensure creating the most effective and adequate support model, but also eliminating the points that prove inefficient. Training and apprenticeship offered by the project will be supported with other activities, such as economic advice, help in planning career paths or establishing Renovator Career Centre, which will improve the beneficiaries' prospects on the labour market. Persons over 45 and women resuming occupational activity after maternity leaves will learn skills required for working with innovative IT technologies, modern management methods, and making business decision, which should considerably boost their chance to find a new job or keep the current one. Participation in the project will let small and medium-sized enterprises improve their competitiveness thanks to improved management skills in terms of using IT, new services, and innovative management methods. As a result, managers from smaller firms will be able to coordinate implementation of most suitable solutions on their own. All the beneficiaries who have successfully completed Renovator Centre's training will be awarded certificates to confirm their new skills and competencies.

Dissemination of the project's results is an integral part of the Partnership's core objectives. The dissemination activities will be targeted at final beneficiaries: central government agencies and organisations in charge of the labour market, teachers and trainers, and international partnerships. The purpose of the process is to convey the knowledge of innovative IT solutions, good practice (training methods, programs, and materials, including e-courses) and to promote certified specialists trained at the Renovator Centre on the labour market.