As lifelong learning is very important for every human being, it is clear that people need guidance about learning at all stages of their lives. The need to improve access to general and vocational training for those generations that are already integrated into the labour and employment markets means there is a demand for increasingly needs-oriented vocational information, guidance and counselling. SMEs' employees are usually overworked, employers usually lack resources, and there are not always incentives for investment in human resources development.
Consequently, the target groups considered by this project are SMEs (both managers and employees). A special consideration is intended for some particular categories in danger of exclusion from the labour market: older employees and women.
“Front-line” counsellors come from enterprises (SMEs) and they require the extension, improvement and upgrading of their initial vocational training and continuing vocational training and education. Front-line counsellors' qualification should take into account the whole spectrum of formal, non-formal and informal learning. In this respect, the project has several specific objectives:
- identifying the desired profile and creating a training package ( curriculum, methodology, instruments, evaluation criteria and certification provisions ) for developing new social skills for front-line counsellors
- elaborating a “ scheme ” with an European dimension, for providing internal guidance fit for SMEs , with particular attention for older people and especially for women
- networking with stakeholders in the area of lifelong learning, in view of lobbying for curricula improvement for technical qualifications and for qualifications and competences recognition .
The activities performed in the project:
- Identification of European, national and local stakeholders and their current level of involvement
- Identification of SMEs workforce needs for lifelong learning enrolling and of best practices for addressing these needs
- Development of a scheme for providing during-the-job internal “front-line” information-advice-guidance-counselling services
- Training of trainers of internal “front-line” counsellors
- Making ready for public the «Internal “front-line” counselling guidelines for SMEs' managers»
- Dissemination and recommendations for the educational institutions, for including social skills development in all levels curricula.
This project considers that first (“front-line”) approach of employees, in view of lifelong learning, fostering the metamorphosis of SMEs into “learning organisations”, should come not from foreign/ external bodies, but from in-house well-known persons. When new technologies require higher qualifications, managers' roles shift from technical and organisational issues towards more social and educational aspects. Their job would be to foster awareness on the culture of learning within own organisations, skills development, leadership commitment, continuous improvement and lifelong learning, as essential prerequisites for successfully employment of the principles of the EFQM Quality Model. New management techniques (coaching, mentoring) should be enriched; hence the managers should also be able to give “front-line” information-advice-counselling on lifelong learning and act like “on-the-job” learning facilitators or learning brokers