SME Chamber

Anticipating Skill Needs – Silvana Aquilina Naudi

 GRTU Council Member Silvana Aquilina Naudi participated in the third regional Conference entitled ‘Establishing a European Network for Anticipating Skill Needs in the Commerce Sector' as part of an EU funded project in Athens 27th September 2010, following invitation by EuroCommerce.



Participating Countries included Greece, Turkey, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, France, Spain & Portugal.
Opening Speeches:
Constantine Michalos, President of ACCI, gave his welcome speech on behalf of Athens Chamber of Commerce.

Alexandra Palli, Secretary General of the  Athens of Commerce and Industry and Vice-President of  EuroCommerce spoke of the difficulties that Greece is currently facing. She spoke of the huge gap that exists between people emerging from their studies and jobs available. These gaps are evident in nearly all sectors.

Thanos Vasilopoulos, Secretary General, OIYE  said that the hugh majority, 70% to 80% of all business in Greece are SMEs, thus representing 800,000 persons in the entire work force. He also spoke about the low quality of educational system at all levels and the gap that exists between the education and labour force, as mentioned also by the previous speecher.
Status Quo Content of Vocational Training

The main topic discussed in this group was the lack of training, qualifications and skills. The work force is under educated, under skilled and also under trained. The Greek speakers insisted that more importance needs to be give to foreign languages. It was also noted that a lack of ‘training culture' is evident and that employers see training as a COST rather than an INVESTMENT. Daria Banchieri from Filcams-CGIL, IT also spoke of how different working conditions are needed for employees. Whilst, Yasin Uygur from Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, Turkey spoke of how this Chamber had embarked on a Leonardo Da Vinci Project as a lifelong learning programme ‘ Training SMEs on E-Commerce'(Kobetic).

Innovation of Vocational Training
Do NOT see just the trees see the whole forest. It is very important that if we (Europe) as a whole is to come out from the grips of the recession, we need to look at the whole picture (Europe) rather than individual economics alone. We need to re-invent ourselves and acknowlege that our workers do their jobs well. Non formal education is to be acknowledged and embrace the notion that employers are the NO 1 providers of non formal education.

The New skills for new jobs initiative:link with our project and next steps
The speakers in this group spoke of the EU 2020 Strategy- Condition of Success which includes employment, productivity and social cohesion. They also of a European Skills Passport, whereby workers across all Eu states would have their formal/nonformal/informal skills recognised in all relevant states. Modernisation of VET was also discussed and the importance of  NQF.

National Coordination of Vocational Training
This section focused on the need of Vocational Training and re-training. Each country needed to look in a see where re-training was needed. Companies needed to see this training as an investment rather than a burden. Leonidas Paschalides, Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry insisted that in a small country like Cyprus, centralisation of resourses makes it more efficient. HRDA(Human Resources Development Authority) was established to help SMEs with training and subsidised 75% of costs, whilst the other 5% was paid annually by means of a levy on all companies.

International Coordination of Vocational Training
This section focused on Immigration. The importance of integration and training of these Immigrates. Various European countries are experiencing an influx of immigrates from different countries around the world. These immigrates do not only originate from Eastern European countries like Romania but also include South America, North Africa and the whole of Africa. Full integration into the work force needs training, such as in language, IT and Retail. Cristina Dimas, CECOA, Portugal, spoke on how the SMEs in Portugal are benefiting from RECOMFOR – Network for Vocational Education and Training in Trade Sector. The aim of the project is to create a European training network (level 4 and 5 EQF) dedicated to the Trade sector, and in a first moment, specifically to the International Trade. It aims at opening a European training space in which mobility (both in training in training centers and in work placements in companies) is an essential component, in accordance with ECVET principles. I wish to note that I am aware that Malta Qualifications Council is also working towards this aim.

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