Fabian Demicoli

SMEST Workshop


The external session of the SMEST
workshop was attended by some 30 participants coming from various SME sectors
and from trade associations.  Following
an introduction, Ing. Francis P. Farrugia gave a presentation on the topic of
Engaging SMEs in Standardization.

The presentation kicked off with some
background information on the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority
and on the Standardization and Metrology Institute and the services being
offered which include the preparation of National Standards, the participation
in Mirror Technical Committees, Information Services, Certification as well as
Training.

The work carried out by the
Standardization Directorate was explained and discussed with the participating
members throughout the session. The discussion dealt with the list of published
standards and also with those standards that are still under preparation. A
list of Mirror Technical Committees where Maltese SMEs are contributing to the
development of European and international standard was also discussed
throughout the external session. This workshop was also an opportunity for the
Standardization Directorate to present its various services such as an SME
helpdesk, certification schemes and various training courses.

An active discussion took place where
difficulties being faced by SMEs were highlighted. These problems may include
the lack of expertise in this area, the time to spare for standardization
matters as many SMEs may be already overloaded with activities, the cost of
participation which involves not only travel costs but also business
opportunity loss. The discussion followed on how SMEs can become more involved
in the process of standardization and on the benefits that SMEs can gain
through this process.

On this matter, suggestions from
participating SMEs included more interaction between the relevant bodies that
assisted SMEs. During the intensive discussion, it was suggested that such
entities should organize road shows to invite SMEs where information activities
can be held to engage the said SMEs.

From an Industry point of view GRTU's
representative Carmen Borg explained GRTU's role in supporting SMEs and
encouraging them to take a more active part in standardization. Focusing in
particular on the developments of National Standards on vocational competences.

From a Cen-Cenelec perspective, Ms
Ingrid Soetaert gave a demonstration of the SMEST website and explained the
various tools for SMEs to make the best use of standardization. Ms Soetaert
made various live demonstrations how SMEs can search for published and draft
standards as well as gather experience from other European SMEs.  Both websites; www.smest.eu and
www.cencenelec.eu were mentioned so as to encourage SMEs to browse through
these sites and get the information and material that they need.

The meeting was concluded with two
case studies. One case study was presented by Mr. Ronnie Galea, a Maltese
delegate for CEN TC 404 on Pest Management Services. The second case study was
then presented by Ms. Magda Magri Naudi, another Maltese delegate for CEN TC
409 on Beauty Salon Services. Both shared their experiences of participating in
Technical Committees and mentioned the various benefits of standards which
include; the ability to participate in the promotion of the standard, the
thorough understanding of the standard and it's design, the enhancement of a
corporate image as an industry leader, the advantage of having information
coming straight from the source, as well as beneficial contacts with other
specialized professionals within the industry.

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