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Technology SMEs lack resources to develop employees' skills, finds study

Technology-based small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) lack the necessary resources to develop their employees' skills, according to an EU funded survey of technology professionals across Europe. The Indic@tor study is the result of a four-year project funded under the in...

Technology-based small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) lack the necessary resources to develop their employees' skills, according to an EU funded survey of technology professionals across Europe. The Indic@tor study is the result of a four-year project funded under the information society technologies (IST) priority of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5). The analysis was coordinated by the University on Twente in the Netherlands, and included Dutch SMEs as well as companies from the UK, Norway, Germany, Poland, Italy, and Greece. The main aim was to explore how the career potential of technology workers can be enhanced during their working lives. Over 2,000 information and communication technology (ICT) professionals and supervisors completed the specially developed Indic@tor questionnaire, and the results reveal stark differences in the levels of education, job satisfaction, and development opportunities of employees in different countries. Despite variations between countries, however, a general profile of ICT workers in Europe did emerge. Most enjoy satisfactory health, are well educated and have a good relationship with their supervisors. While respondents reported that they are relatively happy in their work and have jobs with significant learning potential, they feel that there is room for improvement in both these areas. More worryingly, perhaps, was the discovery that SMEs in Europe's ICT sector lack the necessary resources to develop human capital, and suffer from the absence of a skills development culture for employees. In order to overcome these deficiencies, the Indic@tor partners devised a series of practical recommendations for both employees and companies to enhance the employability of ICT workers. According to the recommendations, ICT professionals can enhance their own employability by acquiring more education, gaining management experience, building a positive and developmental relationship with their line manager, mastering one area of expertise before moving to another, and developing networks with individuals in other organisations as well as their own. The recommendations also stress the often overlooked link between good health and professional success. Employers, meanwhile, should introduce human resources systems that will enhance the learning value of ICT jobs, increase the available time and opportunities for learning new skills and applications, facilitate interaction between ICT professionals in different parts of the organisation, and provide opportunities for gaining supervisory and management experience. As part of the Indic@tor project, the recommendations have been communicated to ICT professionals and supervisors, European policy makers, training experts, ICT-related associations and scientists through a series of workshops and conferences. The complete final report, as well as findings for individual countries, has been made available on the project website.

Countries

Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, United Kingdom

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