Small and medium enterprises have undisputed significance in driving Europe’s economic growth, accounting for 85% of new jobs and 66% of private sector employment. As such, the quality and relevance of the vocational entrepreneurship education provided for new and existing entrepreneurs plays a key role in achieving the 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Business failure is increasingly recognised as an important topic within enterprise education and for good reason: more than half of European businesses will not survive past the 5-year mark. Yet, failure is accepted by many as a normal feature of the macroeconomic and the focus has been put strongly on helping entrepreneurs learn from failure, with a view to starting over from scratch. While important, this approach overlooks the huge economic, societal and personal consequences of business failure: entrepreneurs pay a high cost in lost investment and income, and in self-esteem and career trajectory, not to mention the knock-on effects of unemployment for others.
Although current SME business failure rates are almost back to pre-recession levels, our knowledge of macroeconomic cycles instructs us to use this time to prepare for the next recession. In addition, Brexit presents one of the most significant challenges to small businesses not only in the UK but to main trading partners within the EU: Germany, Netherlands, Ireland and Spain. For these reasons, it is more important than ever to provide emerging and established businesses with the skills needed to weather the turbulence.
To help remedy this situation, Smart up will provide early stage entrepreneurs and established SME owner-managers with the knowledge and skills needed to identify and interpret early warning signals of business crisis, and to take timely, corrective actions, thereby facilitating growth, or survival, in unpredictable or adverse situations.
EARLY STAGE INTERVENTION FRAMEWORK. Developed in collaboration with our HE partner, this comprehensive but accessible digital document will share up-to-date knowledge on financial and nonfinancial Early Warning Signals of business crisis, will present detection and intervention opportunities.
SMART UP CURRICULUM AND OERs. Including a curriculum, learning objectives, lesson plans, assessment guides, and access to a variety of original teaching content in digital format.
SMART UP ONLINE COURSE. Based on the OERs, this training course will be optimized for computers, tablets and smartphones.
Our main Participants are early stage entrepreneurs and established SME owner-managers providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to identify and interpret early warning signals of business crisis, and to take timely, corrective actions, thereby facilitating growth, or survival, in unpredictable or adverse situations.
As tangible results, we expect;
- Update the professional knowledge and skills of 250+ business advisors in 180 enterprise support organizations, and 30 VET and business policy makers by creating and disseminating the EarlyStage Intervention Framework (IO1) and providing innovative digital tools to teach it (IO2, IO3).
- Empower 30+ trainers from 20 enterprise support organizations to begin teaching this topic to earlystage entrepreneurs using the Smart up Curriculum and OERS (IO2).
- Enable 220+ entrepreneurs to develop Early Stage Intervention skills and apply them within their current business ventures by making the training available in an online course (IO3).
On completion the project will have facilitated the increase in the number of advisors incorporating early stage warning signals of business crisis and intervention strategies to mitigate risk into their training programmes and becoming more digitally competent in using digital technologies. By improving the skills and attitudes of business advisors we will impact not only the effectiveness of entrepreneurship training to individual trainees and groups, but be able to create waves of change regarding entrepreneurship teaching in VET as a whole.
At national level the project will impact on the entrepreneurship VET sector by showing how it can and must adjust its provision to reflect that fact that today’s entrepreneurs and SMEs must have improved skills to grow and survive even when the economic context is turbulent or uncertain.
At international level, the project will impact positively on the ongoing work of EU bodies to develop robust yet practical frameworks for competence development especially in the field of entrepreneurship. The EntreComp, DigComp, DigCompOrg and DigCompEdu frameworks will be reference points throughout the project helping us understand how to provide more structure and transparency in the training we provide.