Title Women in SMEs: Validating non-formal and informal learning of family SME managers
Project Number 2013-1-CH1-LEO05-00881
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
Marketing Text A European transfer of innovation project aimed at recognising and validating the expertise and skills of women who (co-)manage very small enterprises (VSEs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The project “Women in SMEs” aimed to transfer, adapt and pilot an innovative process for validating/certifying the management competences acquired by spouses in non-formal (e.g. in-company training) or informal (through life & work experience) settings.
A validation process has been developed by the Swiss Union of Crafts and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SGV) resulting in a nationally recognised diploma in the management of SMEs with a specialisation in the management of family SMEs (Federal Professional Education and Training Diploma) specifically designed to meet the needs of spouses of family SME owners.
The qualification profile, validation self-assessment tool and applicant support system have been transferred to partner countries of France, The Netherlands and Slovenia, who have adapted and tested the Swiss process in their national/local context. The validation process has been piloted with 37 women in SMEs in each partner country.
Family SMEs make up more than 50% of all European companies. They are often set up by a couple and the spouse takes a major role in the management of the SME as well as having a strong personal and financial stake in the company.
These knowledge, skills and wider competences often acquired outside formal education and training institutions, deserve to be recognised and valued. This creates a vulnerability at both the personal and company level (divorce, illness, bereavement, or financial difficulties and bankruptcy).
Based on the experience of Switzerland, this two-year project (October 2013 – September 2015) aimed to transfer a methodology, counselling process and innovative tools to Europe, to improve the recognition and validation of the
expertise and skills acquired by women who (co-) manage VSEs/SMEs.
The transfer included:
• a skills profile of VSE/SME management specialists
• a self-assessment test of professional skills
• a counselling methodology for the preparation of a record of evidence of experience acquired
• an engagement process for all of those involved in implementing the methodology and tools
Main results :
• 6 counsellors trained in the methodology in 3 countries (France, Netherlands and Slovenia)
• 37 women having a record of evidence of their management skills
• 3 national stakeholders groups involved in each country representing chambers, professional association, adult education providers, validation practitioners, and SME women.
During this two-year project, the consortium also identified best practice examples in supporting the individual seeking validation and in the assessment of learning outcomes, which enriched the initial process and tools.
The consortium partners included organisations representing SMEs (sgv, CMA Rhône, Chamber of Craft & Small Business of Slovenia OZS), adult education provider (EHB), organisations with expertise in validation (EC-VPL, PotentialYse) and organisations specialised in European project management (Pillet & Partners). State Departments such as the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation SERI in Switzerland and the Ministry of Labour, Family & Social Affairs of Slovenia supported the initiative.
Recognition, transparency, certification
Sectors Administrative and Support Service Activities
description of new occupation profiles
- Research report on the situation of the context of validation in partner countries and the support needs of spouses, highlighting cultural and national differences and similarities
- Report on existing methods used in partner countries, incl. Report on conditions for the implementation of the validation on non-formal and informal learning of family SME managers, and practices in assessing validation portfolios
- Final evaluation report of the pilot session with spouses
- Self-assessment tool in FR, DE, EN, SI and NL
- Guide for National Stakeholders’ groups and meetings
- Dissemination strategy document
- eNewsletters CH, FR, NL and SI
- Project logo
- IPR and exploitation strategy
- Project leaflet in FR, DE, EN and SI
- Project postcards for spouses of family SME owners
- Project poster in FR, DE, NL and SI
- Spouses videos
- Business plan and sustainability strategic plan