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Albania builds intelligence on SME skills

Year/Date: 03/11/2011

Idlir Proseku of Albanian Investment Development Agency

With the EU pre-accession region undergoing progress reviews on the European Small Business Act (SBA), Albania’s efforts to promote SME skills highlights innovative efforts in building policy intelligence on enterprise skills. The development of a computerized survey instrument targeting Albania’s small business community caught the eye of an ETF team which visited Tirana last week to undertake an assessment of the SBA human capital dimensions.

‘One of our key policy recommendations to partner countries is to undertake a regular screening of the training needs of small businesses and to build up intelligence systematically to enable the training provider market to better meet enterprise training requirements,’ says Evelyn Viertel, the ETF’s country manager and lead expert on the Torino Process  – the ETF’s flagship assessment of partner country training systems. ‘The better the intelligence on SME training needs, the more relevant the training offer,’ says Ms Viertel.

In response to the ETF’s 2009 assessment and recommendations for development of a more systematic enterprise intelligence, the Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA) elaborated a computerized survey tool which allows for data from businesses to easily inserted, making for a cost-effective data development drive.

AIDA’s Idlir Proseku highlights some of the key findings from the first results of from Albanian small businesses that addresses vocational and management skills as well as key competences. 'Good negotiation skills are essential for small business owners in getting to good business deals or even bank loans, for instance. But harder skills cannot be left out,' he said, referring to a key finding from the survey that underlined the need for improved skills in operating plant machinery in the manufacturing sector.

Ms Viertel sees immediate value in the outcomes of the SME skills' survey. 'Small enterprises have clearly underlined the need for improved quality of services and production. Business owners and managers are responsible for ensuring that people on the job have the necessary information, knowledge and know-how to deliver quality work,' she said, underlining how the SBA skills drive addressed both management and occupational skills. 'Training services, both public and private, must continuously fine-tune training programmes which reflect small business interests. It's essentially about the training community being more responsive to the economy,' said Viertel.

Tefta Demeti of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy, and Albania’s SBA Coordinator, is upbeat about the new enterprise skill tracking. ‘Following the last SBA assessment, we made a particular effort to find a more efficient way of engaging with small businesses and gathering information on their skills needs. We consider our survey tool as innovative and we want to build on it,’ she says.

Anthony Gribben, ETF’s enterprise expert, sees good potential in the Albanian developments. ‘We will be recommending in the SBA assessment report that AIDA share their know-how and tools with other national stakeholders like the national vocational education and training agency. Better cooperation on skills’ intelligence will make for more effective policy solutions,’ adds Mr Gribben.

The ETF supports the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry with the monitoring and assessment of the human capital dimensions of the Small Business Act for Europe. A report on each of the pre-accession countries will be published within a wider regional publication in spring 2012.

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