SMEs employ 80+ million people across Europe and are critical to the EU economy. Whilst research confirms the positive relationship between organisational capability, in particular management capability, and small business performance, SMEs are less likely to participate in training than larger organisations. It is also widely accepted that SMEs face special challenges in relation to investing in workplace training including a perceived lack of relevance and appropriateness of products for SMEs. Engaging managers from SMEs in practical, innovative and qualification based training is a challenge across Europe. This project transferred the use of a 360 management skills assessment tool, Perspectives 360, from the UK to 5 European countries, resulting in the assessment of over 300 SME managers and the development of the European Management Skills Benchmark Database. The project aimed to increase the attractiveness of VET, and the use of innovating ICT-based VET assessment practices and impacted on the performance of SMEs/SME managers. Perspectives 360 was delivered by ETA (UK/PO), ISME (Ireland), KADIS (Slovenia), CP (Greece), CIDaf (Romania) , KNO (Slovakia) with CMI (UK). Partners adapted and deveoloped an existing 360 assessment product including translation and contextualisation to meet local labour market needs. They also set up a network of 6 Perspectives 360 assessment centres responsible for engaging 300 SME managers in the piloting of the product. Managers received feedback and an 8 page skills report incorporating a Personal Development Plan, automatically generated by Perspectives 360. The project published a series of Management Skills Benchmarking Reports and a comparative skills report resulting from the European Management Skills Benchmark Database. This project resulted in new insight, understanding and acceptance of 360 degree assessment and feedback models and their use in VET assessment and recognition of skills and competence. The Partners will further develop and sustain the project through a comprehensive dissemination strategy designed to support the commercialisation of the product through the exploitation strategy. The partner network will create new capacity and capability to increase the network by setting up a network of assessment centres in other European countries thereby impacting not only at a regional/national level, but also at a European level. The ultimate project impact is the improvement the management capability and performance of SMEs.
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