Network D Strengthening the national social economy (the third sector), in particular the services of interest to the community, with a focus on improving the quality of jobs.
Project name
Project number F0326

Project description

The project's objective is to support small and medium enterprises of the Warmińsko-Mazurskie region in the use and implementation of modern ICT solutions and to enhance adjustment potential of their employees. The Partnership will conduct activities in two sub-projects: the first will focus on taking advantage of the Internet and teleworking in small and medium enterprises and the second on e-learning and modern knowledge management methodologies.

During the initial phase, panel discussions among labour market experts helped to prepare a comprehensive diagnosis of the local SME sector, including both obstacles and development opportunities. The unemployment rate in Warmińsko-Mazurskie is the highest in Poland at 28% among young people. One of the reasons for this situation is that young people have difficult access to jobs. Uneven economic development of the region and poor infrastructure make it difficult to use the ICT knowledge of this group. High costs of commuting from villages or towns to larger agglomerations like Olsztyn, Elbląg or Ełk in many cases prevents young people from taking a job. Unlike large companies, small and medium enterprises are unable to create new jobs and use modern technologies to boost their growth due to the lack of technological competencies, adequate training and advisory support.

Currently teleworking arrangements do not exist in the region, while available studies reveal that mostly sought after specialists providing services to companies and individuals, scientists, managers, lawyers can successfully be employed under this system. IT technologies, however, are not widely utilized. Companies do not have qualified personnel able to implement new solutions. At the same time, available training courses are frequently too expensive for small and medium companies, the knowledge is incomprehensible and does not meet the entrepreneurs' requirements.

There is no advisory services facilitating effective implementation of ICT solutions in small companies. Many managers do not see the IT solutions as a way of improving their competitiveness. Unawareness of teleworking and related opportunities is a significant problem. Small and medium enterprises rarely use free software available in the Internet and are reluctant to outsourcing the services (e.g. marketing or finance).

For this reason on-line training courses (via Internet), teleworking and distance advisory and training services seem to be an ideal solution. Creating flexible jobs in small and medium enterprises will allow to employ young and educated employees. However, there are no generally available tools enabling to hire teleworkers and to prepare unemployed and SME staff to use new technologies and communication solutions.

In relation to the diagnosed problems and assumed objectives, the Partnership has decided to extend the Project to 430 owners and managers of small and medium enterprises and 430 employees and other people related to the SME sector in Warmińsko-Mazurskie region. Cooperation with the beneficiaries will result in developing tools and training programs enabling dissemination of the teleworking idea among small and medium enterprises and an effective use of modern ICT solutions.

The conferences will help to make local entrepreneurs interested in opportunities and benefits of modern technology. Conference participants, owners and managers of small and medium enterprises will have an opportunity to exchange experience and share good implementation practice. Managers will benefit from training in the use of the Internet, teleworking and e-learning in small and medium enterprises.

They will also benefit from assistance to the implementation of IT solutions in their enterprises. Similar training will be delivered to 220 employees of small and medium enterprises under a separate advisory programme.

Open Platform for Remote Education (OPRE), an Internet vortal with extensive information on tele-learning and e-training courses, will be one of the products developed by the Partnership. Teleemployersand Tele-workers Exchange (TTE), enabling contacts between prospective employers and
employees in the region and beyond, will be another result of the project. TTE as an international venue will enable users to find a tele-work in other European countries. Information on innovation in small and medium enterprises of the region will be disseminated by the website The number of its users is estimated at 65,000. After completing the project a database of good examples of ITC solutions, including websites, e-commerce applications, e-marketing and tele-working will be established. During the project, intensive dissemination activities will be conducted among employers and employees and local labour market organisations aiming at promotion of positive models for influencing the small and medium enterprises' market. Energetic tele-working market will result from the implementation and dissemination of the project.