Results of the Research

Further to a desk and field research carried out in 2009 in several EU countries (Italy, Greece, Spain and Romania), the following specific needs for managerial competence development have been detected:

  • most SMEs show a higher level of internationalization, thus managers should develop skills needed to improve the international dimension of company activities
  • managers consider to be just partially involved in innovation activities
  • there is the need to consolidate own organisational and communication skills and to test innovative training methodologies
  • managers must develop the necessary skills for entrepreneurship through long life learning, because knowledge and skills must be constantly updated, since entreprises must create the capacity for ongoing innovation and must be able to react and to adapt quickly becoming more flexible as it concerns organisation and structure
  • the competence model has been so far more entrepreneurship-oriented rather than management-oriented: leadership and relationships represent distinctive features of managerial behaviour and are relevant for the competitive performance
Source: “European Report: international benchmarking and adaptation of Management Model to local settings, EMME project, 2009”

Generally speaking, European managers of SMEs do not rely so much on training for their professional success and for the improvement of their managerial functions, but they prefer to bet on the skills developed through practical experience. There is still a problem of the formal recognition of these skills acquired through informal learning or learning from peers, which is really a challenge when we think of European mobility of managers.

As a matter of fact, there are different situations in different EU countries, in some of them (i.e. Denmark, the Netherlands) procedures for validation of prior learning are meant to recognize and qualify prior non-formal learning and informal knowledge as well as work experience. Individual Dossier Skills have been devised for validation purposes, documenting people formal educational qualifications and their non-formal/informal experience in order to define a personal career strategy.

In other Member States, the process is at a very early stage, particularly as it concerns the competence assessment from national or regional administration and the establishment of a qualification framework compatible with the European Qualification Framework. The private sector and companies can play an important role in the validation of informal learning, especially for the credibility and recognition of the competences established; these procedures are generally implemented in education and not yet used by employers and employees for career-guidance and personal development. A structural approach to relationships with companies would certainly help widen the applicability of the recognition procedures and the development of a legislative framework on it.

No significant step forward has been made concerning the validation of prior learning and work experience for managers, especially SMES. In fact some big companies envisage patterns for acknowledging non formal and informal learning in their staff recruitment procedures, but it is not common in SMEs.