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How can improved VET skills address European SMEs needs

Why is it so important to focus on SMEs skills?

  • SMEs dominate the European economy; according to Directorate-General Enterprise of the EU Commission for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, they represent 99% of all businesses in the EU, employ around 100 million people, account for more than half of Europe’s GDP and play a key role in adding value in every sector of the economy;
  • SMEs bring innovative solutions to challenges like climate change, resource efficiency and social cohesion and help spread this innovation throughout Europe’s regions; they are therefore central to the EU’s twin transitions to a sustainable and digital economy;
  • SMEs are characteriсed by their adaptability to economic change, flexible working and opportunities to improve skills and qualifications; however they tend to carry out little training.

What are the main European SMEs needs in the framework of the INGENIOUS project?

A survey launched under the INGENIOUS project has the main objective to identify the SMEs needs in the field of digital and green skills. The 5 partner countries (Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, and Latvia) discovered that there are missing skills in digitalisation and technologies that save nature and the skills related to waste management, reuse, better use of resources (water, light etc.) and recycling. We also discovered that the knowledge and awareness of the concepts “green” and “circular” economy is still insufficient, and an effort should be made towards this topic. The SMEs experience relatively high demand for specialists with green competences capable of creating and implementing “green” solutions (products, processes, operations) and identifying “green” opportunities. Last, but not least there is a strong need for better knowledge and understanding of the corresponding legislation and the practical experience in the application of the new digital and green requirements needed for the twin transition.

Why is cooperation between VET and SMEs important?

Encouraging dialogue and partnerships between education/training and employers/enterprises is essential if the employability of individuals and entrepreneurial potential is to be improved.

VET and the labor market are two sides of the same coin. People trained in VET are the innovation drivers and entrepreneurs of the future. Vocational education and training prepares people for work and life and offers real career opportunities. SMEs need trained people with skills that match European priorities more than ever as they face the challenges of making the transition to the digital economy.


“Skills are key to create quality jobs and foster innovation, competitiveness and economic growth of SMEs and micro-enterprises in view of the twin transition. Quality initial and continuous education and training need to be further promoted in order to respond to the specific needs of crafts and SMEs” stated Social Affairs and Training Policy adviser Valentina Guerra during an EESC study group meeting on the exploratory opinion ‘Promoting skills for a more just, cohesive, sustainable, digital and resilient society’.

How can improved VET skills address European SMEs needs
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INGENIOUS project belongs to the Erasmus+ program category, KA2: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices, and specifically to KA226: Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness.