Quality approaches in vocational education and training _VET_ in

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					Quality approaches in vocational education
 and training (VET) in European small and
medium enterprises: the case of four sectors
          in three Member States




            The Irish National Report




             Tom Martin and Jim McDevitt




            Tom Martin & Associates/TMA



                    Priory House
                    19 Priory Hall
                      Stillorgan
                     Co. Dublin
                       Ireland

                Tel: (353 1) 283 5252
                Fax: (353 1) 283 5251
                  Email: info@tma.ie




                  16 March 2007
Table of Contents



   Executive summary                                            1

   1.   Introduction and methodology                            4

   2.   Sectoral profiles and training situation                5

   3.   Consolidated sectoral reports                          21

   4.   Quality approaches in small firms’ VET:
        Sectors’ similarities/differences and interpretation   44

   5.   Summary of findings, conclusions
        and recommendations                                    46

   Appendices

   1.   Sources of further information                         51

   2.   Bibliography                                           51

   3.   Sectoral profile—statistics                            53

   4.   List of interviewees                                   58

   5.   Skillnets                                              59
Executive summary

      As part of an international CEDEFOP project, Tom Martin & Associates/TMA,
      Marketing and Management Consultants, have prepared this report on the
      quality approaches to vocational educational and training (VET) adopted by
      Irish SMEs in three sectors, viz Food & Beverages, Retail, and Hotel,
      Tourism & Catering. The report layout followed a comprehensive set of
      guidelines developed by the project co-ordinator, Professor Joseph Hassid
      of the University of Piraeus.

      The methodology adopted by the Irish consultants comprised a number of
      data collection techniques including a literature review and interviews with
      sector experts, training providers and sector SMEs. A series of international
      meetings enabled the overall project team to jointly design and finesse
      comprehensive structured questionnaires for the respective data sources. It
      should be noted that the modest scale of the project meant a relatively
      small sample of informants was interviewed and caution should be
      exercised in interpreting the findings.

      The centrepiece of the project was the field study which surveyed three
      separate stakeholder groupings for each sector — sector experts
      (government development and training agencies, enterprise representative
      bodies, etc), VET providers (public and private sector) and SMEs. Where
      applicable the project hoped to point up the contrasting opinions of these
      stakeholders in regard to quality in training.

      The questionnaires ranged over a wide area of training issues, including
      levels of in-employment training undertaken, organisation levels targeted
      (operatives, management, owners), ‘drivers’ of training (new statutory
      regulations, new technology, increased diversity of new recruits, etc),
      impediments to SME training, training needs identification (including for any
      special categories such as migrant workers), design of training
      programmes, selection criteria for training courses, modes of training
      delivery, SME satisfaction with training courses and training providers,
      impact of training on company performance and development, attitudes of
      providers and SMEs to quality in training, government incentives for
      training and agency initiatives to promote quality VET in SMEs.

      The salient finding of the study was that the stylised SME constraints — the
      lack of funds, management time, manpower, information and long-term
      strategic thinking — all conspired to make VET extremely problematic for
      Irish SMEs in all three sectors. Statutorily-driven training (e.g. food safety)
      was diligently undertaken but, despite managers becoming better informed
      of the merits of HR development, few companies enjoyed the luxury of
      fashioning a comprehensive developmental training strategy.

      The besetting problem for SMEs was their inability to let their staff have
      sufficient time off for training; where larger organisations had the
      manpower resources to cover for such a training occasion, SMEs simply had
      no ‘slack’ to exploit. VET providers, who had traditionally concentrated on
      the provision of generic courses, delivered in a classroom setting, and often
      of long duration, were only beginning to address the demand among SMEs
      for short, practical, business-specific and individualised
      interventions, delivered, where possible, at the place of business.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 1
      Another major theme in the Irish case was the phenomenal growth in the
      immigrant labour force attending the economic boom in the last decade.
      This welcome influx has challenged the enterprise sector and the training
      community to design appropriate induction training programmes to
      maximise the gains for trainees and host organisations. The skills profile of
      immigrant workers in Ireland in the recent past has exceeded that of the
      resident population but it is also widely acknowledged that migrants are
      operating in occupations below that which one would expect, given their
      educational profile. The principal reasons for this are lack of comparability
      of international qualifications and deficits in English language skills. The
      National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) is leading the
      development of an integrated policy approach to the recognition of
      international qualifications.

      As regards government policy on VET, the study found that, in the last
      decade, policy measures had been heavily concentrated on efforts to upskill
      the unemployed. Both general training agencies such as FÁS and sector-
      specific development agencies such as Fáilte Ireland (FI) devoted most of
      their VET budgets to getting people back into the labour force. The situation
      for in-employment VET improved when the 2000–2006 National
      Development Plan allocated a substantial budget for in-employment training
      to be delivered by FÁS’ Competency Development Programme (CDP) and
      Excellence through People (ETP) scheme, and by Enterprise Ireland (EI) as
      part of its Business Development Model (BDM).

      A key finding of the study was that identification of training needs — the
      crucial first element in the European Common Quality Assurance Framework
      (CQAF) — was proving too big a challenge for busy SME management.
      Several Irish reports had recommended that the agencies (FÁS, EI and FI)
      should fill this gap by developing a cadre of skills identification officers in
      their organisation who could then assist SMEs to accomplish this initiating
      task.

      Recent reports by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) and the
      Small Business Forum highlighting the poor VET performance by Irish SMES
      have drawn fresh initiatives from the government agencies. In particular
      the spotlight has fallen on management development in SMEs as an
      efficient means of instilling a training ethos, and FÁS, in co-operation with
      local business groups (e.g. Chambers of Commerce, trade associations),
      are planning SME-friendly management training programmes and training
      of trainers within SMEs.

      One area of promise in the Irish VET policy landscape was the promotion of
      the network approach to training involving small enterprises. The very
      successful Skillnets initiative, first piloted in 1999, represented a co-
      operative training strategy pursued by networks of enterprises operating in
      the same sector or geographic region to identify and address common
      training needs. The Skillnets SME-friendly philosophy was to develop
      practical tools to analyse and meet training needs quickly, effectively and
      locally. The new County Based Tourism Learning Network announced in
      2006 by Fáilte Ireland marked another network-training initiative.

      The overall conclusion must be that measures by policy makers and training
      providers for the provision of training to Irish SMEs are still quite some
      distance from achieving the robust approach to quality training envisioned
      in the EC’s Common Quality Assurance Framework in terms of Needs
      Identification, Training Planning, Implementation, Assessment/Evaluation
      and Review/Feedback.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 2
      TMA recommended that CEDEFOP (or the appropriate European body)
      should mount an intensive awareness campaign to get the CQAF message
      out to the relevant national stakeholders — agencies, social partners,
      business associations, training providers, companies and trainees. A pilot
      national CQAF programme should be launched in selected sectors to
      galvanise the training community.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 3
1. Introduction and methodology

1.1 Introduction
      The TMA team of Tom Martin and Jim McDevitt are pleased to submit this
      report to the Project Co-ordinator, University of Piraeus, on a study
      investigating Irish perspectives with respect to quality approaches in
      vocational educational and training within small and medium sized
      enterprises.

      The report was prepared following receipt of a comprehensive set of
      guidelines prepared by the Project Co-ordinator.


1.2 Methodology
      The researchers employed a number of data collection techniques including:

      Literature review: Published reports and statistics were collected with
      respect to the three sectors under review: Food and beverages, Retail, and
      Hotel, tourism and catering. The list of publications accessed is included in
      Appendix 2 while statistical data are included in Appendix 3;

      Interviews: The research team conducted interviews with a range of
      informants in the three sectors including sectoral experts, training providers
      and small enterprises. The list of informants surveyed is included in
      Appendix 4;

      Data analysis and report presentation: The researchers analysed the
      data collected during the preceding two stages and prepared the draft
      national report for submission to the project co-ordinator.

      Members of the Irish research team took part in meetings of the overall
      project team in Berlin, Brussels and Thessalonica.

      It should be noted that the research project was based on a relatively small
      sample of training providers and small and medium-sized enterprises in
      each of the three sectors under review and caution should be exercised in
      interpreting the results.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 4
2. Sectoral profiles and training situation

2.1 Introduction
      Section Two provides a brief overview of the dynamics and economic
      significance of the following sectors in Ireland:

      •      Food and Beverages;

      •      Retail;

      •      Hotel, tourism and catering.

      Following these profile sketches the section presents a brief summary of the
      training situation in terms of demand and provision for the three sectors.

      Additional statistical data on each of the three sectoral profiles are
      presented in Appendix 3.


2.2       Sectoral profiles

      2.2.1 Food and Beverages Sector

      Food and Beverages is Ireland’s single largest indigenous sector and it plays
      a critical role in the continued growth and success of the Irish economy.
      The latest published Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show that it
      employed 47,000 people directly in 2003, with 75% of this figure working in
      indigenous industry. The food processing industry accounts for 85% of
      direct employment.

      1997 data showed that there were approximately 1,000 Irish-owned food
      firms in Ireland employing nearly 32,500 people. 640 of these firms
      employed less than 19, with an average of 7 employees per firm and a total
      employment of 4,200. Based on the Forfás IEE Survey data, for Irish-owned
      food firms employing greater than 19, 55% of their output was sold on the
      Irish market, with associated employment of approximately 16,000. About
      40% of firms employing greater than 19 exported more than half their
      production and almost 50% exported less than a quarter of their
      production.

      In addition to direct employment the food sector is responsible for c.
      300,000 indirect jobs on farms and in sub-supply industries and ancillary
      services.

      Annual food output exceeded €12 billion in 2003 and the industry
      contributed €6 billion in exports (circa 7% of total manufacturing exports).
      This export figure had grown to €7 billion by 2005.

      Some 70% of food manufacturing enterprises are small companies
      employing less than 50 people; however, these represent only about 20%
      of total employment in the industry, and less than 10% of net output.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs       Page 5
     Growth of the Food and Beverages Industry

      The continued development of the food sector is a major priority for
      Enterprise Ireland (EI), the Irish indigenous industry development agency.
      In its Annual Report for 2004 EI stated that the potential for continued
      growth in the food industry was enormous. Such growth will occur against a
      backdrop of rapid and sustained transition as the food sector becomes
      increasingly market driven. A new dynamic is at play with new sectors
      emerging that mirror lifestyle changes and consumer trends in society.
      Innovation, new market-led products and moving up the value chain shape
      the future and are the key imperatives for companies that want to be part
      of this growth. 2004 and 2005 were very god years for the indigenous food
      sector with many expansions and innovations announced.

      Ireland’s vibrant food sector has attracted many of the world’s top food
      companies such as Diageo and Nutricia. Diageo made two strategic
      investments in Ireland in 2004 that illustrate how attractive the economy
      had become as a location for highly successful global multinationals.

      Market-led innovation

      There is an increased focus on market-led innovation in the food industry.
      The primary driver is the market and the consumer, and their requirement
      for innovative, sophisticated and competitive products. There is particularly
      strong growth potential in functional foods, ingredients and beverages, and
      in prepared consumer foods. The companies that succeed in this
      environment are distinguished by their capacity to innovate on a continuous
      basis to meet changing consumer demands on a global scale.

      Consumers are demanding health, wellness, convenience and value from
      the food industry. Wellness is a key trend and each producer must have a
      clear view as to how wellness is going to impact on its product range. The
      challenge therefore is for producers to create products that follow these
      trends. This requires an increased level of R&D and innovation focused on
      high-grade nutritional products, food ingredients and the development of
      strong consumer brands.

      Enterprise Ireland is focussed on supporting this culture for innovation in
      the sector through:

      •     Supporting the establishment of global research centres, innovation
            programmes and innovation networks;

      •     Establishing the necessary skills to create, manage, absorb and
            commercialise R&D activity;

      •     Developing networks and collaboration opportunities with industry and
            the academic/research community.

      Challenges

      The 2004 Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) report, Ahead of the Curve,
      stated that the Irish agri-food and drink sector now faced fundamental
      change, largely driven by CAP reform and WTO negotiations. Rapid
      consolidation at retail and production levels, trade liberalisation and
      increased competition from lower cost regions, represented major
      challenges to this important sector of the Irish economy.

      The ESG report claimed that Ireland’s future competitiveness as a food
      exporter will depend on efficiencies across the entire supply chain, from


Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 6
      primary input production to manufacturing, marketing and distribution.
      Product differentiation and the capability to satisfy evolving consumer
      requirements will be essential.

      The ESG concluded that if the key initiatives from the recent strategies
      proposed for the development of the agri-food sector were implemented,
      Ireland could achieve world-class standards in production, processing, and
      customer services in specific segments of the industry. It identified these
      as:

      •     Prepared consumer foods;

      •     Functional foods and beverages;

      •     Food ingredients;

      •     Speciality foods.

      2.2.2 Retail Sector

      The Forfás report on The Dynamics of the Retail Sector in Ireland back in
      2000 noted the substantial changes in the retail sector in the last 30 years,
      both in Ireland and internationally. The retail base in Ireland was once
      made up of large numbers of small shops offering specialised services, e.g.,
      butchers, bakers, shoe shops and small general stores offering ranges of
      dry goods and fresh foods. These were complemented by large department
      stores offering a range of clothing and household items. High streets in
      cities and towns contained an assortment of small shops and small general
      stores (small by comparison with today’s outlets). Manufacturers had
      considerable market power. They distributed goods through their own
      outlets, through third party retail outlets and, particularly in the area of
      fresh foods, through doorstep sales.

      As the economy developed consumers became more mobile, tastes
      changed, and a greater emphasis was placed on price. The retail sector had
      to respond to these new circumstances. The key change was the
      emergence of large-scale retailers, particularly in the food sector. As these
      major food retailers grew they widened the gap with the smaller, more
      traditional retailer. Increased concentration in Ireland mirrored the same
      phenomenon in other countries. This, in turn, led to the
      ‘internationalisation’ of retailing with super retailers operating in a number
      of countries.

      This growth switched the market power, introducing a range of retailers
      who were larger than many of their suppliers. Food retailers, in particular,
      assumed the role of ‘channel captaincy’ and drove much of the subsequent
      changes in the supply chain. Footwear and clothing retailing also
      experienced increased concentration but not to the same extent as the food
      sector. Like its counterpart in many European countries, the Irish
      independent non-food retail sector remained strong by adapting to
      changing consumer tastes and trends.

      Overall, the pace of structural change in the Irish retail sector accelerated,
      driven by the search for economies of scale, increased market share,
      vertical integration of the supply chain, consolidation among the major
      companies and the integration of information and communications
      technologies. The change was manifested in continued expansion in outlet
      size together with variations in formats to meet locational and demographic
      needs and the growth of symbol groups. Very noticeable in Ireland was the



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 7
      increase in international ownership, particularly with the economic boom
      from the mid 1990s.

      The Forfás report summarised the dynamics of the retail sector:

      •     The economic contribution of the Irish retail sector (gross value added
            as a percentage of GDP) increased over the decade. Comparisons with
            other countries had found that the ratio of GVA to GDP does not
            change significantly as an economy grows; this implied that Irish
            retailers were benefiting from a productivity learning curve. Industry
            sources reported that Irish retailers were becoming very competitive
            in aspects of retailing such as purchasing, category management,
            logistics management, store management and consumer marketing;

      •     The number of retail outlets in Ireland grew from just under 40,000 in
            1977 to nearly 53,000 in 1998. There was a significant reduction in
            grocery shops, which was more than offset by increases in the
            numbers of shops providing personal services;

      •     Within the food sector, there was a significant reduction in shop
            numbers over the decade largely due to the decline of the
            independent general grocery sector.

      •     The number of clothing shops remained fairly constant. Independent
            specialists comprised a significant cohort in this sector.

      •     Employment in the retail sector was high in Ireland compared to other
            European countries. In 1998 employment in the Irish retail sector
            accounted for 10.8% of total employment.

      •     There was a significant trend towards part-time and female
            employment in the retail sector.

      •     Retailing has significant linkages within the Irish economy. 50 per
            cent of employment in food and clothing manufacturing companies
            employing 20 or more people were directly dependent on the
            domestic Irish retail market.

      •     The rate of concentration in the food sector due to indigenous growth
            had levelled off at the start of the decade but the subsequent entry of
            major UK food retailers into the Irish market renewed the
            concentration dynamic.

      •     The level of own-label food product sales in Ireland was low compared
            to other countries. The expectation was that own-label sales would
            increase in the near future;

      The 2005 report of the Consumer Strategy Group (CSG) updated the
      commentary on the dynamics of the Irish retail sector. The structure had
      changed dramatically with retail sales accounting for 15.1 per cent of GDP,
      having grown by 40 per cent in the 1999–2003 period. Although there was
      little change in the number of food and non-food retail outlets, total retail
      floor space grew by 36.1 per cent from 7.2 million square metres to 9.8
      million square metres.

      Forty four per cent of retail outlets were in Leinster. Dublin, with 29 per
      cent of the population, had only 19.5 per cent of outlets, but these had
      higher average floor space.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 8
      Ireland was well served in terms of number of outlets per head of
      population and was above the EU average. In 2003 Ireland had 8.6 retail
      outlets for every 1,000 people compared to an EU average of 8.

      Food sales from convenience stores now represented 42.2 per cent of sales
      compared to 38.1 per cent in 1999. Between 1999 and 2003 food sales in
      Ireland at discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl rose from €29 million
      to €165 million driven by new store openings and consumers’ growing
      acceptance of the new format. Aldi and Lidl together now accounted for 3
      per cent of total retail grocery sales.

      Sales through alternative selling channels (e.g. catalogue shopping,
      internet retailing, direct selling, vending machines and non-petrol sales at
      service stations) increased by an estimated €1.1 billion in 2003.

      2.2.3 Hotel, Tourism and Catering Sector

      Tourism is a major economic sector for Ireland in terms of national and
      regional wealth creation. Tourism generates some €4 billion in annual
      foreign revenue earnings and €1 billion in domestic earnings, supports
      140,000 jobs and is by far the largest, Irish-owned internationally-traded
      sector of the Irish economy.

      The turnover of the industry represents c. 4.4% of Irish Gross National
      Product.

      Employment in the sector grew by more than 70% between 1990 and 2002
      — a rate of growth considerably above the 50% growth in overall
      employment in the economy over that period.

      Visitor numbers to Ireland grew well ahead of global trends throughout the
      1990s, increasing by an average of over 7% each year compared with a
      corresponding world figure of 4.3%.

      In terms of revenue, Ireland’s performance also exceeded European and
      global growth rates in the eleven years up to 2001. The best performance
      source markets for Irish tourism were the US and Britain.

      Hotel Sector

      The hotel sector is one of the biggest sub-sectors within the tourism
      industry; there were an estimated 54,095 people employed in the hotel
      sector in 2005. Of these, approximately 89% were year-round and 11%
      were seasonal employees; this represented a marginal increase on the
      2004 figures.

      Overall 26% of operators stated they had increased employment, 17% a
      decrease in employment, and the majority 59% said employment was
      broadly the same when compared to 2004.

      Approximately two out of every three year-round hotel employees are in
      full-time employment.

      Waiting staff account for approximately 18% of those in employment,
      followed by accommodation staff (16%), bar staff (13%) and chefs and
      cooks (12%).

      Unskilled operatives, which includes occupations such as cleaners and those
      employed at a general assistant level, also accounted for 12% of all year-
      round employment.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 9
      In the region of three out of five (59%) people working in hotels are
      women. Women account for an even greater percentage of those employed
      in a supervisory role (63%), whereas the gap at managerial level is a lot
      narrower, with 51% of hotel managers being female, and 49% male.

      Approximately two-thirds (64%) of year-round employees are Irish. A
      further 26% are from other EU member states, and 10% from non-EU
      member states.

      Restaurant Sector

      The restaurant sector is also a major employer. There was an estimated
      43,309 people employed in the sector in 2005. Of these approximately
      35,997 (83%) were year-round and 7,312 (17%) were seasonal
      employees; Approximately 58% of year-round employees were in full-time
      employment.

      About 28% of the total employment was in the Dublin region (equivalent to
      about 12,000 people). The largest proportion of employees were employed
      in the remainder of the Southern and Eastern region (45%); while the
      remaining employees (27%) were employed in the Border, Midland and
      Western region.

      Waiting staff accounted for approximately a third (34%) of those working in
      the restaurant sector, followed by chef/cooking staff (25%), and unskilled
      operatives (14%).

      Just over half (53%) of those employed on a year-round basis in
      restaurants were women. Women accounted for an even greater
      percentage of those employed in a supervisory role (55%). However, the
      men were a slight majority at managerial level, with 53% of all managerial
      staff being male.

      Approximately 55% of year-round employees were Irish. A further 29%
      were from other EU member states, and 16% from non-EU member states;
      Irish employees accounted for the vast majority of employees at
      managerial and administrative level, whereas other EU and non-EU
      nationals accounted for more sizeable minorities amongst waiting, cooking
      and unskilled operative staff.

      2.2.4 Concluding Remarks on the Sectoral Profiles

     What is common to the three sectors chosen for study in this report is their
     image as traditional sectors with a good deal of low-tech, low-skills
     activities and sizeable SME populations. However all three have been shown
     to be very significant components of Ireland’s enterprise structure and have
     the potential to remain substantial creators of wealth and employment.

     Reports have described how the three sectors have experienced profound
     changes over the last decade and none has remained untouched by the
     bracing wind of global competition.

     It is a commonplace to state that, in the face of change and competition, a
     sector’s crucial resource is its people (patently so in the case of Tourism),
     but if acknowledgement of this fact is backed up by world-class investment
     in Human Resources (HR) development then Ireland can continue to enjoy
     the fruits of their success.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 10
      The following section looks at the current situation regarding training in the
      sectors as reflected by activity from the demand and supply sides and the
      efforts of government to enhance their commitment to HR development.


2.3 Training situation

      2.3.1 Training in the Food and Beverages sector

      Two reports in 2003 by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs 1 (EGFSN)
      concluded that although the food sector was expected to experience a
      decline in employment over the period to 2007, it would continue to
      represent a significant sector in Ireland, both as employment provider and
      as a major exporter. For this reason, it was all the more important that
      those continuing to work within the sector were well equipped with the
      education and skills needed to deal with an increasingly competitive
      environment.

      Two areas where changes were likely to be most apparent were in the skills
      profiles of production/operative staff and graduate entrants. Its industry
      survey indicated that while the demand for overall operative staff was set
      to remain constant or in slow decline, the demand for immigrant labour, the
      majority of which were employed in low-skilled jobs, was likely to increase
      due to competitive pressures and the difficulty in securing local labour.
      Second, while it was found that there was no current or likely shortfall in
      graduate numbers to the food processing industry over the next five years,
      analysis of survey respondents and the views expressed by industry
      confirmed that the skill-sets of graduates would need to evolve to reflect
      changes in the market environment and industry structure.

      The principal public-sector training agencies involved in the Food Industry
      include sectoral specialists Teagasc (agriculture and food processing), An
      Bord Iascaigh Mhara (Fisheries) and Bord Bia (food marketing), together
      with cross-sector agencies FÁS, the National Training and Employment
      Authority, and Enterprise Ireland (EI), the development agency for
      indigenous enterprise.

      Teagasc (www.teagasc.ie), the National Agriculture and Food Development
      Authority provides a range of services, which include advice, research,
      education and training, to the agricultural and food industries in Ireland. In
      addition to offering third-level and vocational courses for young people,
      Teagasc provides training for food industry personnel in food safety,
      quality, process and product development. Teagasc has a resource of over
      200 teachers and trainers operating from 8 colleges and 80 local training
      centres and research centres.

      Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) (www.bim.ie) is the Irish State agency with
      responsibility for developing the Irish Sea Fishing and Aquaculture
      industries. BIM provides a range of services including advisory, financial,
      technical, marketing and training supports to all sectors of the Irish seafood
      industry. It provides training in three broad categories — catching, fish
      farming and seafood processing. The training that BIM carries out provides
      both initial and continuing training and in 2002 a total of 1,867 persons
      attended BIM courses




1
 Responding to Ireland’s Skills Needs (2003); The Demand and Supply of Skills in the Fod Processing
Sector (2003).



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs                Page 11
         FÁS

         A current government concern at the macroeconomic level is to encourage
         companies to support their poorly-qualified operatives to gain recognised
         qualifications by acquiring both generic and technical skills. This upskilling
         is needed across all sectors but is particularly important in traditional
         sectors that have a preponderance of low-skilled and low-paid employees.
         FÁS has identified Food & Beverage SMEs as one of the sectors where
         upskilling is urgent.

         In 2003 FÁS introduced its Competency Development Programme (CDP) to
         support the upskilling campaign. Its aim was to raise the competency level
         of targeted employees in particular occupations within specific sectors
         identified by FÁS following consultation with sectoral and regional
         stakeholders and other development bodies.

         Through the CDP FÁS also supports the training of trainers, covering both
         the upskilling of professional trainers and basic training skills for other staff.
         The CDP is open to employees from private sector companies whose
         employment level is 250 employees or less. Key skill needs are identified by
         research and /or consultation with the relevant industry/business
         stakeholders and other agencies.

         CDP training is delivered by one of two mechanisms:

         (a)    Commissioned Training: FÁS contracts approved training
                organisations to design, develop, organise, promote and deliver
                training programmes;

         (b)    Open Market Training: where FÁS decides that commissioned training
                is not an option it offers financial support for access to training
                programmes which already exist in the market place.

         In both Commissioned and Open Market Training the training organisation
         must be on the FÁS/EI National Register of Trainers for delivering the
         specific programme. The training programme proposed must be set out in
         accordance with FÁS Training Specification Standard No. QA 58/01

         FÁS has paid particular attention to training in the meat sector. As a result
         of the trend in redirecting meat exports to more sophisticated consumer
         markets such as the UK supermarket sector, there was a recognition by the
         industry and by the FÁS food sector team that these customers wanted
         high quality, safe product, processed in plants employing high skilled
         workers. Following the commissioning of a training needs analysis by
         Teagasc, FÁS decided, in 2000, to develop a training standard for the meat
         processing industry, with input from the Department of Agriculture and
         Food, the Food Safety Authority, Bord Bia, IBEC 2 and the industry. Together
         they developed procedures and training assessment guidelines, which were
         approved and signed off on by the Department of Agriculture and Food and
         the Food Safety Authority.

         Workers in the meat industry complete modules under supervision by three
         people (a trainer, a verifier and an assessor) and qualify for a FETAC-
         accredited National Skills Certificate.




2
    IBEC is the employers’ representative body — the Irish Business Employers Confederation.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs                  Page 12
      The FÁS food sector team has also developed a range of further training
      initiatives for the sector in conjunction with University College Cork, such as
      the Certificate and Diploma courses in Food Science and Technology.

      They have also, in conjunction with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, developed the
      Quality in Fish Processing programme.

      Food SMEs can also avail of the cross-sectoral FÁS programme —
      Excellence through People (ETP). FÁS introduced ETP as a national
      standard in human resource management. All types of organisations are
      eligible to attain the ETP quality mark in HR development including
      manufacturing and service companies in the public, private and voluntary
      sectors.

      The programme assesses eight competencies:

      1.    Business Planning and Quality Improvement;

      2.    Effective Communication and People Involvement;

      3.    Leadership and People Management;

      3.    Planning of Learning and Development;

      5.    Training and Life-Long Learning;

      6.    Review of Learning;

      7.    Recruitment and Selection;

      8.    Employee Well-Being.

      FÁS conducts a number of ETP Training Courses in order to explain the
      process. The aspiring organisation takes action to achieve the indicated
      standard in these competencies. FÁS then carries out an assessment and
      sends its report to an Approvals Board. Approved organisations are granted
      the Excellence Through People certification.

      Organisations require re-assessments by FÁS to maintain certification. A
      special reduced fee is offered to SMEs.

      A revised ETP format with three award levels has been developed and
      approved. This provides the ETP programme with a more developmental
      oriented focus.

      Enterprise Ireland (EI)

      Enterprise Ireland (EI) supports training initiatives in Food SMEs as part of
      an overall company development programme. EI’s Business Development
      Model (BDM) addresses functional skills areas including Strategy, Finance,
      Marketing, R & D, Human Resource Development and Operations.

      EI Development Advisors conduct a holistic appraisal of “client” company
      needs and prepare a tailored package of supports which may or may not
      include training support. Where training support is deemed desirable, an EI




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 13
      HRD3 advisor will be assigned to the company to assess its needs.
      Subsidised training, often of a firm-specific variety, will then be provided.

      BDM training can take the form of:

      •      Off the shelf training courses, provided on an off-the-job basis;

      •      Specialist, in-house training courses using outside trainers;

      •      Specialist knowledge acquisition in the form of mentoring, using the
             joint EI/CEB4 panel of mentors;

      •      The development of internal trainers using firms from the joint FÁS/EI
             Approved Register of Training Providers that specialise in ‘train-the-
             trainer’ programmes. These can lead to qualifications from the Irish
             Management Institute, the Irish Institute of Training and
             Development, or the Chartered Institute of Personnel and
             Development (UK).

      A company may apply to EI for training support under three categories:

      •      Funding for new opportunities — companies are encouraged to invest
             in the development of existing and new human resources through the
             training of managers, key employees and staff;

      •      Funding for company expansion — designed to help a company
             expand by increasing exports;

      •      Productivity Improvement Fund — launched in May 2005 as part of
             the 2005-2007 Enterprise Ireland Strategy to enable firms to adopt
             advanced technology and focus on skills development to improve their
             competitive position.

      EI, like FÁS, also operates sectoral training initiatives (developed by their
      HRD advisors) involving both the design of new training courses
      (sometimes in conjunction with third-level institutions) and their delivery to
      (usually to targeted) clients. Recent initiatives include:

      •      An NUI5 Diploma in Management Practice (Consumer Foods),
             developed in conjunction with UCC and targeted at newly appointed
             graduates, established managers and team leaders in the food
             industry;

      •      The Trinity College M.Sc. in International Business Programme (2 year
             part-time) with an international marketing and sales focus, targeted
             at SME managers (approximately 30 participants);

      •      The ‘Strategy for Export Programme’ (STEP), aimed at young high-
             growth, high technology companies;

      •      A ‘Selling to the European Buyer’ training programme for the
             Industrial Products sector, targeted at managers with responsibility
             for export business development;

      •      The ‘Marketing Skills For Profitable Export Growth’ programme,
             targeted at first time exporters;


3
  HRD — Human Resources Development.
4
  CEBs — County Enterprise Boards (local-government support bodies that assists micro enterprises
employing less than 10 employees).
5
  NUI National University of Ireland.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs                Page 14
         •      Entrepreneurship Skills Development programmes such as ‘The
                Investor Ready Programme,’ targeted at CEOs in early stage
                development companies;

         •      Consumer Food and Functionality Academies Training for Food and
                High Potential Start-up client companies (entrepreneurship and
                innovation skills).

          Enterprise Ireland considers the development of World Class Management
          Teams as the key to growing the food sector. EI assist companies to build
          strong, customer-focused management teams to lead and direct their
          innovation strategies. They provide access to management skills training,
          mentors and financial support for approved programmes.

         Some examples of EI management development initiatives include:

         •      Strategic Change Programme for the Pork and Bacon Processing
                sector;

         •      Business Skills development programme for graduates in the
                Consumer Foods area. This programme is delivered in conjunction
                with University College Cork (UCC);

         •      Strategy development programme for Dairy Co-op directors run in
                conjunction with ICOS6 and UCC;

         •      Skills development programme for the health enhancement and
                functional foods sector run in conjunction with the Centre for Food
                and Health Studies (UK).

         Both FÁS and Enterprise Ireland (EI) operate regional offices and their HR
         development staff work closely with the training needs of client companies
         across the country.

         FÁS and EI have collaborated to assemble a national list of Registered
         Training Providers who have been vetted by an approval committee
         comprising members of the state agencies — FÁS, EI, Expert Group on
         Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) — and the Social Partners. Companies are
         subsidised to employ the services of these private training consultants for
         approved courses.

         2.3.2 Training in the Retail Sector

         The main pressure on Retail SMEs to adopt training comes from the
         imperative of customer care. This demands that staff, in particular front-
         line staff, receive thorough induction training in customer-relations skills.
         Another pressing training imperative is the requirement to achieve HACCP
         compliance by all staff involved in food handling.

         There is also mounting pressure on Retailers to incorporate more
         information and communications technology (ICT) skills in their operations.
         The deployment of ICT in supply chain management can enhance efficiency
         and competitiveness. ICT can also increase the market research capabilities
         of retailers, enabling them both to monitor changes in consumer demand
         and to respond to consumer requests for value-added services such as
         loyalty cards.




6
    ICOS — Irish Co-operative Organisation Society.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs      Page 15
      The principal public-sector training providers to Irish Retail SMEs are the
      Services to Business Division of FÁS (the national employment and training
      development agency) and the company-led Skillnets providers.

      The relevant FÁS training programmes — the CDP and the ETP — have
      already been described.

      Skillnets (see also Appendix 5) is an enterprise-led network approach to
      training and development providing flexible training delivery methods to
      SMEs that have difficulty accessing or benefiting from mainstream training.
      The Skillnets board comprises representatives from employer, employee
      and Government organisations. It is funded under the National Training
      Fund.7

      Client companies of Skillnets can customise training to their specific needs.
      In each training network, companies come together to decide what training
      they need, how, where and when it will be delivered. This approach is
      particularly appropriate for small and medium-sized businesses that may
      lack the time, expertise or money to develop training customised to their
      specific needs and directly relevant to their size and industry sector.

      Many of the networks are sector-based — this was not a requirement
      imposed by Skillnets but a trend that emerged from the companies
      themselves — and are located throughout the country. Other networks are
      made up of companies getting together to bring training into their area and
      make it accessible to the local industry.

      The Skillnets programme began life as a pilot project in 1999. Its mandate
      was extended in 2002 for a further three years. The Government decided in
      2005 to support a further mandate for Skillnets to cover the period to the
      end of 2010. A total of €55 million is being committed from the National
      Training Fund to Skillnets to cover this period.

      There are few retail-specific training courses offered by higher education
      institutions (HEIs) although some Institutes of Technology are now
      beginning to work with FÁS and employer organisations to develop specific
      courses for this sector.

      In the private sector a diverse group of general and specialist training
      providers focus on retail training areas ranging from customer care to
      compliance with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points)
      standards.

      2.3.3 Training in the Hotel, Tourism and Catering sector

      The Human Resource Development Strategy — "Competing Through
      People" — published in May 2005 by the Irish tourism development agency,
      Fáilte Ireland (FI), noted that Tourism had traditionally struggled with
      negative perceptions of employment conditions and practices. The Strategy
      highlighted the need for a radical change in mindset to regard the people
      working in the industry as its principal source of competitive advantage.
      Measures to improve the sector’s image would be intensified as the industry
      set about building the skills and know-how required to sustain the
      anticipated growth in the sector.



7
  The National Training Fund (NTF) was established under the National Training Fund Act (2000) to
finance training for two groups — those in employment and those seeking employment. The fund is
financed by a 0.7% levy on payroll in the private sector.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs                Page 16
      The FI strategy argued that Training issues were not necessarily unique to
      tourism. Many are common to small businesses across all economic sectors.
      SMEs often claim that small scale prevents them from employing the kind
      of Human Resource Management expertise needed to respond to these
      issues. FI suggest that Tourism SMEs do not necessarily need a specialist
      human resources manager — but they do need well-designed human
      resource practices. In particular they need to be able to design better work
      schedules and shift structures, promote autonomy and responsibility at the
      level of the individual worker, while fostering a recognition of inter-
      dependencies and the need for teamwork. In addition to this positive work
      climate they must equip their workers with highly developed technical and
      social skills so that they can deliver a customer experience that will
      distinguish Irish tourism from its international competitors.

      Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Business & Employment Survey 2005 Vol. 1: Hotel
      Sector compiled by Fitzpatrick Associates gives the following information:

      •     Approximately two out of five operators (38%) provided training to
            year-round employees in 2005. The incidence of this was highest in
            the Non-Licensed Restaurant sector; where almost two-thirds (64%)
            of operators had provided training; while half or more had done so in
            the Restaurant, Hotel, and Tourism Services and Attractions sectors.

      •     Approximately 29% of tourism sector operators provided in-house
            training, while 20% provided for training by external training
            providers. In-house training was most frequently provided in the Hotel
            (50% of operators), Non-Licensed Restaurant (50%) and Restaurant
            (47%) sectors. The level of external training provision was highest in
            the Hotel sector (44%), and Tourism Services and Attractions (36%).
            With the exception of the Tourism Services and Attractions sector, the
            level of external training provision was also lower for every sector
            than compared to in-house training.

      •     Skilled operatives were the most frequently trained occupation group,
            with 21% of operators providing training to this group during the
            year. This was followed by managerial (19%), supervisory (15%), and
            unskilled operative staff (13%). External training was provided most
            often for managerial staff, with 10% of operators indicating that they
            provided training for managerial staff using external providers. In-
            house training was most commonly undertaken by skilled operative
            staff.

      The type of training provided differed from sector to sector, and across
      various occupations. However, there were a number of common types of
      training provided across the sector. The most frequently mentioned
      included:

      •     customer care;

      •     health and safety;

      •     HACCP;

      •     hygiene.

      About two out of five (42%) operators had training requirements for 2005–
      2006. About two out of three hotels, and tourism services and attraction
      operations had training requirements, while over half of restaurants (55%)
      had requirements also.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 17
      Over a fifth of operators (22%) had training requirements for their skilled
      operative staff, while 17% required training for managerial staff. The figure
      was lower for supervisory (14%), unskilled operative (10%), and clerical
      and administrative staff (7%).

      Training requirements differ between sectors and occupational groups,
      however there were a number of fairly common training requirements
      across the sub-sectors. These included:

      •     HACCP/refresher course;

      •     customer care;

      •     health and safety;

      •     hygiene courses, e.g. for food, cleaning etc;

      •     first aid.

      In 2006, FI launched its County Based Tourism Learning Networks. This
      initiative aimed at providing practical business support to tourism SMEs to
      help managers further develop their people and business skills. Thirty three
      Tourism Learning Networks will be established throughout the 26 Counties
      giving the opportunity to all SMEs to participate in their own County Based
      Tourism Learning Network. Network participants will receive training and
      support throughout in the form of workshops, mentor support, computer
      and e-learning and through interaction with other networks.

      New Tourism Development Programme under the National Development
      Plan 2007–2013

      The government has announced details of the new €800 million Tourism
      Development Programme which will be funded under the recently launched
      National Development Plan 2007–2013.

      The Tourism Development Programme includes:

      •     an 'International Marketing' sub-programme, which provides €335
            million to promote the island of Ireland in key international markets;

      •     a 'Product Development and Infrastructure' sub-programme which
            provides €317 million to upgrade and supplement our tourism
            attractions and activities and to deliver a National Conference Centre
            in Dublin;

      •     a 'Training and Human Resource Development' sub-programme which
            provides €148 million to support the upgrading of the capability of
            firms in the sector and the provision and training of staff to meet
            growing demand.

      The Training and Human Resource Development Sub-Programme will invest
      €148 million in the education and training of the tourism workforce, both
      domestic and non-national, as well as sustaining structured educational
      opportunities in the third level colleges and Institutes of Technology. It will
      also provide for the continuation of initiatives aimed at improving
      management capability and networking in SMEs and micro-enterprises at
      regional level. The sub-programme will build on the Human Resource
      Development Strategy — "Competing Through People" — published by
      Fáilte Ireland in May 2005, which highlighted the need to regard the people




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 18
         working in the industry as a principal source of competitive advantage in
         the future.

         2.3.4 Concluding Remarks on the Training Situation

         •     Some economic advisors to government argue that the rationale for
               State intervention to support enterprise training is marginal, given the
               reality that firms undertake a considerable quantum of general
               training which is precisely the area where market failures would be
               expected to occur.

         •     However, a rationale may be sustained for intervention in support of
               SME training based on asymmetries in information flows and service
               provision. SMEs first need Management Development training to
               sensitise their management to the strategic benefits of company
               training. But reports8 in many countries confirm that SME
               management are not persuaded of the cost-benefit of management
               development. They recommend an awareness campaign using case
               studies demonstrating the clear payoffs from management
               development.

         •     Training provision needs to be made much more relevant and
               accessible to SME managers. The classic SME constraints of Time,
               Relevance and Cost must be addressed. The Small Business Forum
               Report claimed that providers of management training had been
               relatively unresponsive to the types of management training
               demanded by small business managers. Whereas supply is
               concentrated on the provision of generic courses, often of long
               duration, delivered in a classroom setting, the demand among small
               enterprises was for short, practical, business-specific and
               individualised interventions, delivered, where possible, at the place of
               business.

         •     Provision of management training programmes must meet the needs
               and learning styles of owner/managers. Recent research, including
               interviews with small firm owners and managers, found a clear
               preference for:
               •     Informal peer group management support activities;
               •     Peer group management development courses involving periodic
                     structured learning sessions supplemented by mentoring;
               •     Short basic courses in specific applied management skills;
               •     One-to-one mentoring; and
               •     Continuous integrated company interventions by training
                     consultants over longer periods.

         •     In response to these findings, the new FÁS strategy 9 includes plans
               for a major new initiative to provide SME managers with a flexible,
               relevant, method of acquiring core skills for their job. Courses will be
               defined in conjunction with representatives of SMEs to ensure their
               relevance and will be delivered locally in short modules usually in the
               evening or at weekends. It is envisaged that FÁS will conduct such
               programmes in co-operation with local business groups (e.g.
               Chambers of Commerce, trade associations).

8
    Tansey/McIver 2006 report to the EGFSN, SME Management Development in Ireland.
9
    FÁS (2005), Building on our Vision: Statement of Strategy 2006-2009.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs             Page 19
      •     FÁS also plan to intensify their Training of Trainers to develop training
            resources within SMEs. It will encourage smaller companies to
            develop basic training skills in at least one member of their
            management team. FÁS has earmarked part of the budget of the
            Competency Development Programme to cover both the up-skilling of
            professional trainers and basic training skills for other staff.

      •     FÁS had hoped that its Excellence through People (ETP) programme
            would become the catalyst for changing the mindset of managers to
            training but the take-up has been disappointing. In its new strategy
            FÁS states that it is looking at the UK experience where participation
            in a similar HR awards programme (Investors in People) has become
            a requirement for Government procurement contracts. FÁS believe
            that a non-mandatory, preference process in Ireland for public
            purchasing would prove an invaluable mechanism to boost the ETP
            and will consult with the relevant authorities to explore this option.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 20
3. Consolidated sectoral reports

3.1 Introduction
      This chapter presents TMA’s findings from the surveys of sector experts,
      training providers and SMEs with regard to the information elicited in
      structured questionnaires.

      For each sector the format of the presentation is:

      •     Sector training needs;

      •     SME training practices and QA approaches;

      •     Views of sector experts, training providers and small firms;

      •     Government support for SME training;

      •     Recommendations of the persons surveyed.

      The object of the chapter is to profile the situation in each sector in regard
      to quality approaches to training, and to bring out any important
      differences in opinion between the three information sources surveyed
      (sector experts, training providers and SMEs themselves).


3.2 Food and Beverages Sector

      3.2.1    Training Needs

      Recruitment of Specialised and Trained Personnel

      Sector experts indicated a difficulty in recruiting new graduates at the high
      skills end — science graduates prefer the cleaner environment and better
      pay and conditions of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

      SMEs reported that it was also difficult to recruit reliable staff for the low-
      skill end of the business. Many young people today adopt a casual,
      immature attitude to factory work and display poor attendance
      commitment. They have a tendency to flit between factory work and more
      lucrative seasonal opportunities in fishing, building work etc.

      In relation to higher level skills, one SME remarked that it was proving
      difficult to find food technologists with a suitably wide experience of
      different food processing environments — there was a tendency for
      graduates to ‘stay local’; another SME, in a remoter location, found the
      opposite problem — qualified graduates did not wish to return to work in
      their home regions.

      Need for New and Updated Skills

      Sector experts state that training providers and training courses are heavily
      concentrated in the Food Hygiene and Safety areas, reflecting the impact of
      legislation and regulation as a driver of training in the industry. Virtually all
      of these training courses are short (1–3 day type) courses and workshops,
      as opposed to certificate or diploma programmes.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 21
      Conversely, there is a generally low level of interest and availability for
      training in many strategically important skill areas such as customer
      relationship management, operations management and new product
      development. This reflects the industry’s short-term operational focus.

      A need for further courses in the following areas has been identified:

      •       Specialist induction programmes for immigrant workers is being
              developed by FÁS, in consultation with Enterprise Ireland and the
              Food Safety Authority of Ireland, to be delivered in various languages;

      •       Dedicated sales, marketing, food safety management and customer
              relationship management courses, specifically for SMEs;

      •       Understanding customers’ strategies and understanding their
              customers’ customers. Such insights are necessary to effectively
              develop new product propositions and tailor solutions for the
              particular customer in question;

      •       Interpersonal/people/team-working skills;

      •       R&D Innovation Management and Commercialisation of Ideas;

      •       IT skills, in particular those underpinning supply chain management
              and efficiencies;

      •       Logistics competencies.

      Sector experts cited the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs
      (EGFSN) whose 2003 report on the Food Processing Sector had identified
      the critical skills for future business development and the strength and
      weakness of Irish food processors in these skills areas:

      Table: Critical skills gaps in the food sector
          R&D/NPD/Quality         1. Skills needed to commercialise New Product
          Control Skills          Development (NPD)
                                  2. Product research/NDP Skills
          Processing Skills       1. Operative Skills (existing technology)
                                  2. Operative Skills (new tech/process)
                                  3. Production Supervisory Skills
                                  4. Operative Skills (craft workers)
          Sales & Marketing       1. Marketing Skills
                                  2. Language Skills
                                  3. Negotiation Skills
                                  4. Category Management Skills
          Support Skills          1. Training Skills
                                  2. IT Skills
                                  3. Business Planning Skills


      Identification of SMEs’ Training Needs

      Sector experts and Providers claim that training needs are seldom identified
      by individual SME owners, certainly not in a structured or strategic fashion.
      “SME owner/managers generally don’t know where precisely their HR
      problems lie — they don’t know what they don’t know.”



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs      Page 22
         SME owners/managers claim that they lack the resources to justify hiring a
         full-time HR development manager. However many state that they do sit
         down with their line managers at the start of the year to draw up an annual
         training plan. Further training needs can be triggered by customer
         complaints or by employees requesting extra training.

         In the main, skills gaps are usually identified by industry associations or
         development agencies. Experts and Providers cite the key role played by
         the EGFSN, established in 1997 to advise Government on future skills
         requirements and labour market issues for the enterprise sector. Since
         January 2004 the EGFSN has also been assigned the role previously
         undertaken by the National Training Advisory Committee to provide advice
         on overall training strategy for enterprise training in Ireland, including
         advice on the allocation of the National Training Fund.

         The EGFSN is made up of Business representatives, Employee
         representatives, Enterprise, Education and Training Sector Representatives
         Government Departments, and State Agencies. It operates under the aegis
         of Forfás and contracts research from public and private research
         organizations including the FÁS-based Skills and Labour Market Research
         Unit (SLMRU) which maintains a database of statistics on skills in Ireland.

         The EGFSN in conjunction with the Department of Enterprise, Trade
         & Employment has just published a National Skills Strategy10. The strategy
         outlines:

         •      description of the Irish economy in 2006 with associated skills profile;

         •      projected skills gaps by sector and occupation to 2010;

         •      economy scenarios in 2020 with associated skills profiles; and

         •      prioritised skill development targets to meet the needs of the
                economy to 2020.

         Factors driving New Training Needs

         Meat and dairy companies are subject to stringent EU food safety directives
         and national hygiene standards. In parallel with these statutory regulations
         the companies must be responsive to the growing customer demand for
         Quality, Safety and Traceability of food products. This demand is mediated
         through retailers’ buying standards — large multiple retail stores require
         food suppliers to operate to the highest QA standards such as ISO 9001,
         the British Retail Consortium (BRC) technical standards, and the EFSIS
         European standard for food manufacturing companies. These statutory
         regulations and customer pressures translate into significant training
         drivers.

         The highly automated nature of the food sector means that training in new
         process and packaging equipment and in new technology constitutes
         another substantial element in operator training. Food technologists require
         training at higher levels to drive innovation in their industry.




10
     EGFSN (2007), Ireland’s Future Skills Needs to 2020.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs         Page 23
         3.2.2     SME training practices and QA approach

         Main Target Groups of Training Providers

         All levels of Food company personnel are serviced by FÁS and EI. Skillnets,
         and of course the HEIs, tend to target management levels. Many private
         sector Training Providers servicing the Food companies target operator
         levels for food hygiene and safety courses.

         Designing the Training Programmes

         Generally it is the development agency or its commissioned Provider who
         designs the course; this will usually be done in consultation with the SME
         owner/managers and the prospective trainees.

         The tendency today is to design the courses so as to attract a FETAC 11
         certification. This has a two-pronged advantage. The FETAC award
         guarantees a certain quality level in the courses and it facilitates mobility of
         staff within the sector.

         SME Training Policies and Practices

         Companies report training coverage from less than 25% to greater than
         75% annually. The generally high coverage level is explained by the fact
         that all staff have to receive HACCP training (at least to basic level HACCP)
         and that this training has to be ‘refreshed’ on a two yearly cycle.

         Most companies have a training policy but often this is not very
         comprehensive and is often developed merely to comply with regulations.
         Large retail stores such as Tesco now insist that food suppliers will operate
         to a reputable QA standard such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC)
         standards. Such standards include stipulations that the companies operate
         an explicit and transparent training policy in regard to food safety.

         Sector experts are concerned that the inevitable emphasis on food-safety
         training (HACCP, etc.) does not lead to a lop-sided training policy where
         training in other business areas loses out. This requires awareness and
         vigilance on the part of SME management.

         The most common mode of training for SME staff is on-the-job and in-
         house class situations — often using sector-wide CD instruction e.g. the EU
         food safety directive is available in several European languages. FÁS
         actively support these e-learning products which SME staff can access in
         their work-place.

         Discussions with the SMEs graphically pointed out the insuperable obstacles
         to external training in terms of job disruption. Some SMEs were able to
         access suitable “atypical delivery” options e.g. weekend courses (Friday
         evening & Saturday).

         Owner/managers may occasionally make time for off-site training
         programmes, and technical staff may be sent on external courses if they
         are “immediately practical” e.g. lean manufacturing best practice.

         Management training courses may be run in Higher Education Institutions
         or involve group visits to different business sites.



11
     FETAC — Further Education and Training Awards Council.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs       Page 24
      There are an estimated 110 training organisations involved in providing
      specific programmes for the food sector. About six percent of these are
      public sector bodies with the balance comprising private sector companies.

      The principal public providers are FÁS, Enterprise Ireland (EI), Teagasc,
      Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and Skillnets.

      Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) (www.ibm.ie) is the Irish State agency with
      responsibility for developing the Irish Sea Fishing and Aquaculture
      industries. BIM provides a range of services including advisory, financial,
      technical, marketing and training supports to all sectors of the Irish seafood
      industry. It provides training in three broad categories — catching, fish
      farming and seafood processing. The training that BIM carries out provides
      both initial and continuing training

      Teagasc (www.teagasc.ie), the National Agriculture and Food Development
      Authority provides a range of services, which include advice, research,
      education and training, to the agricultural and food industries in Ireland. In
      addition to offering third-level and vocational courses for young people,
      Teagasc provides training for food industry personnel in food safety,
      quality, process and product development. Teagasc has a resource of over
      200 teachers and trainers operating from 8 colleges and 80 local training
      centres and research centres. Because of the major shift towards part-time
      farming, Teagasc is currently developing e-learning courses for part-time
      farmers. It is planned to establish an e-College in the near future.

      Other public sector training providers include the Higher Education
      Institutions (HEIs) — University College Cork (UCC) has built up a strong
      competence in food sector education and research.

      Providers in the private sector include generalist and specialised training
      companies ranging from basic hygiene training to instruction and
      collaboration in sophisticated food technologies. In addition training is
      provided by technology suppliers.

      At production level, customised training in process equipment is scheduled
      both at induction and later to facilitate job rotation; this training is usually
      provided in-house by equipment suppliers. At higher skills levels companies
      have agreed training programmes for line management, stores control and
      laboratory staff.

      The SME survey indicated an even spread between the use of public and
      private-sector training providers, with Teagasc, UCC and St Angela’s
      College featuring strongly in the public arena.

      Often the sectors are combined when FÁS funding is made available to
      SMEs to hire approved private consultants to deliver approved courses such
      as installing BRC standards.

      One enterprising dairy SME in the North West was able to access a training
      course provided in Northern Ireland (NI) by the NI Department of
      Agriculture on the strength of being a customer to several NI dairy farmers.
      This same SME pointed out its disadvantage in being so remote from
      Teagasc’s HQ in Moorepark (in the South West of Ireland).

      Sector specialists listed the stylised barriers to training facing all SMEs:

      •     the disruption to business caused by staff unavailability as a result of
            attending training courses is the single largest barrier to training —
            SMEs do not have spare staff capacity to cover for such absences;


Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 25
      •     fear of poaching of trained staff by free-riding competitors;

      •     management’s lack of understanding of the role of training and their
            perception of Training as a cost rather than as an investment in
            Human Resources.

      Our survey of food SMEs confirmed that lack of substitute staff was the key
      impediment to releasing personnel for training.

      Food companies targeted all levels of personnel in their training plans. In
      terms of Food Safety (HACCP) the usual policy is to include all staff, even
      those in the office, so that a culture of safety is inculcated throughout the
      factory.

      Progressive SMEs encourage their Food technologists to update their skills
      through part-time higher education courses and seminars. Management and
      QA personnel are likewise allowed to enhance their skills and qualifications
      in a fashion that does not unduly disrupt the business.

      Many SME managers have a fear of their staff being poached by
      competitors within the sector. This reinforces their reluctance to up-skill
      their employees in a generic way although they may be willing to provide
      highly company-specific training. Often what SMEs fear more from staff
      mobility is that confidential information will be ‘leaked’ to competitors on
      products, policies and procedures.

      The average % spend by food companies surveyed was 2% of turnover.

      Selection of Training Providers

      In general providers, both public and private, are very active in promoting
      their training products. When managers attend conferences they are often
      provided with training literature from FÁS, Teagasc and the food technology
      colleges such as St Angela’s, Sligo and University College Cork.

      Membership of employer representative bodies such as IBEC and ISME keep
      companies informed of courses in management, employment legislation etc

      As regards criteria used our SME survey showed that management
      considered other criteria as well as cost when selecting their training
      programmes. For most, the critical consideration was whether the course
      could be delivered on site. Also, relevance was ranked highly — ideally
      SMEs want courses that are customised, at least to some extent — trainers
      should be aware of the main issues in the sector and “speak the lingo.”

      SMEs’ attitudes to Quality Assurance

      Sector experts report that Food companies are beginning to appreciate the
      many advantages of a quality HR development policy. Apart from the
      strategic benefits in terms of competitiveness and productivity a respected
      HR policy is proving to be a very good recruiting instrument.

      Some SMEs reported that they operated the BRC standards and this means
      that they have to adopt a systematic approach to training. All reported
      quality procedures to achieve HACCP compliance.

      Impact of Training on SMEs’ Performance

      Most companies stated that an impact was clearly discernible in increased
      productivity and staff morale, but none was able to quantify the



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 26
      improvement — no company reported operating a comprehensive
      Kirkpatrick-type evaluation framework12.

      There was a mixed response to the question of impact on company
      development. Some stated that top management viewed training as the
      high road to company success; others conceded that the companies were
      more or less dragooned into training by the mounting body of legislation
      surrounding food safety and hygiene.

      Training Providers’ approach to Quality Assurance

      Most public sector training programmes are nationally accredited. This is
      not yet the case for private sector programmes. However, there is a
      significant drive underway to gain FETAC certification for all training
      programmes in line with the national qualifications framework.

      It is standard practice for government agencies such as FÁS and EI to pilot
      their training programmes and seek feedback from trainees. They use
      contracted “verifiers” to assess their training programmes according to the
      terms of reference.

      Apart from deploying the usual end-of-course feedback forms few private
      providers operate a thoroughgoing evaluation system extending to
      assessing the impact back in the company six months after completion of
      the training course. Evaluation is restricted to gauging the immediate
      impact in terms of skills increase of the trainees.

      Continuous training of Trainers

      Both public and private sector training providers claim to operate a policy of
      continuous training of trainers.

      3.2.3 Views of Representative Organisations, Training
      Providers and SMEs

      Training Qualifications and Skills

      The impact of training has been most noticeable in the significant
      enhancement in hygiene and food safety levels in the Irish food sector.

      There has not been a significant emphasis on higher level skills but where
      they have been pursued this has enabled more progressive companies to
      enter more sophisticated markets requiring expertise in food technologies
      and research.

      Training Provisions for Special Groups

      There has been a marked growth in the immigrant labour force following
      the economic boom in the last decade. This welcome influx has challenged
      the enterprise sector and the training community to design appropriate
      induction training programmes to maximise the gains for trainees and host
      organisations.

      The skills profile of immigrant workers in Ireland in the recent past has
      exceeded that of the resident population but it is also widely acknowledged
      that migrants are operating in occupations below that which one would

12
  See Kirkpatrick, Donald L. (1975). "Techniques for Evaluating Programs" Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Also Phillips, J.J. (Ed.),1994. “In Action: Measuring Return on Investment,” Volume 1, Alexandria, VA:
American Society for Training and Development.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs                  Page 27
         expect, given their educational profile. The principal reasons for this are
         lack of comparability of international qualifications and deficits in English
         language skills.

         Recognition of the international qualifications held by migrant workers is
         very important to preserve the efficiency and flexibility of the Irish labour
         market. In order for migrants to be able to access the labour market
         effectively, Irish employers must be able to recognise and compare the
         migrants’ qualifications, whether academic, professional or vocational. The
         National Qualifications Authority of Ireland has led the development of an
         integrated policy approach to the recognition of international qualifications
         by establishing a one-stop-shop for the recognition of international
         qualifications, Qualifications Recognition Ireland.13

         The cohort of non-Irish nationals employed in the Food sector has risen
         dramatically in the last decade, not just in the main urban centres but also
         in the rural areas. There is a lot of automation in the industry with the
         result that the operative roles tend to be low skilled. Traditionally these
         roles in food organisations such as meat plants were filled by part-time
         farmers but the increased participation levels in education in Ireland has
         meant that many of these people are now electing to continue on to third
         level education.

         There is as yet no sector-wide programme of induction to facilitate the
         recruitment of migrant workers. Typically SME management expect them to
         pick up a sufficient command of the language as they go about their work,
         though management usually take care to recruit a group of migrants in
         which one or more will have a working knowledge of the language and can
         ‘lead’ the others.

         SMEs’ assessment of Training Services Provided

         By and large SMEs scored training services in the middle rank — “useful” —
         indicating a broad satisfaction.

         At the low skills end the Private Providers received most praise; at the high
         end the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) were more highly regarded.
         SME responses were by and large favourable but none expressed complete
         satisfaction.

         Social Partners’ participation in Training Needs Identification and
         Programmes Evaluation

         Ireland’s three-year national partnership agreements, involving
         Government, social and community partners, have all included agreed
         policies in relation to education, training and lifelong learning.

         The Social Partners also contribute to sectoral training deliberations at
         national level by sitting on the Advisory Committees of national boards.

         By and large, at micro-level, retail SMEs steer clear of unions, preferring to
         maintain good staff relations and foster flexibility on both sides.




13
     www.qualificationsrecognition.ie



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs        Page 28
      3.2.4    Government policies in support of SME training

      Government Incentives for SME Training

      As part of Ireland’s €52 billion National Development Programme 2000-
      2006, the Employment and Human Resources Programme (€13 billion
      budget) featured two in-employment training measures provided by FÁS
      and EI with budgets of €147m and €119m respectively (both part financed
      by the European Social Fund).

      The objective of the FÁS Measure was to enhance the productivity and
      competitiveness of Irish companies in selected sectors through the
      provision of advice and assistance to companies in identifying and meeting
      their human resource development needs. Activities under the Measure
      included:

      •     analysis of sectoral training needs;

      •     implementation of programmes to meet these needs;

      •     development by FÁS, in co-operation with other organisations, of a
            register of approved trainers.

      The Competency Development Programme (CDP) and Excellence through
      People scheme were among the specific initiatives implemented to raise the
      levels and quality of in-employment training.

      Traditionally the majority of public expenditure on Irish continuing
      vocational education and training was related to the training of the
      unemployed rather than to those in employment. In 2005, FÁS received a
      very substantial increase in its budget for training of the employed rising
      from €8 million in 2004 in 2005 to €35 million. This level of budget was
      maintained in 2006.

      The EI Measure aims at the development of firms’ internal capacity to build
      human resource development skills as an integral part of business
      development across all sectors, including food and fish processing. Actions
      include best practice workshops and the development of standards and
      certification such as Excellence through People.

      The 2006 Report of the Small Business Forum claimed that the public
      money available for in-employment training under the National
      Development Plan 2000-2006 has so far been substantially under-spent,
      suggesting that resource constraints were not the primary barrier to
      training in the small business sector.

      3.2.5    Recommendations

      Proposals for Further Policy Initiatives

      A common concern voiced by sector experts and SME management was
      that the burden of food safety regulations was preventing companies
      getting to their other training requirements.

      A particular concern was the lack of resources going into training for
      innovation in the sector. Food technologists are the engine of
      competitiveness and the cadre from which the next round of entrepreneurs
      is expected to emerge. SMEs commented on the imperative of allowing
      their staff attend refresher courses at this level, but those unfortunate to be




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 29
      in more remote locations complained of the lack of local training centres to
      avoid the heavy cost in time lost travelling.


3.3 Retail Sector

      3.3.1    Training Needs

      Recruitment of Specialised and Trained Personnel

      Sector experts suggest that those retail SMEs that do not devote much
      attention to staff development and that offer little in the nature of career
      advancement are finding it difficult to recruit able staff.

      The SMEs reported that it was difficult to recruit Irish staff for the low-skills
      end of the business because the pay and conditions are not competitive
      with what is available in other job opportunities.

      Need for New and Updated Skills

      SMEs report that induction training programmes centred on customer
      service comprise the predominant training need. This need is accentuated
      because of the increasing employment of immigrants who have to become
      acquainted with the language and culture of the Irish marketplace.

      Select staff will later require specialist training in areas such as selling
      skills, merchandising, stock control, security etc. As they progress in their
      careers to line and department management they will require advanced
      training in management skills.

      For retailers of sophisticated products e.g. IT consumer goods, training in
      product knowledge is also an important requirement.

      Identification of SMEs’ Training Needs

      Sector specialists acknowledge that SME owner/managers are able to
      recognise short-term gaps in business-specific operational skills and react
      accordingly. But they seldom take a more strategic view linking investment
      in training to future development of the company.

      It thus falls to sector associations such as IBEC (the Irish Business
      Employers’ Confederation i.e. representative body) and the state
      development agencies such as FÁS and Enterprise Ireland (EI) to scope out
      the developmental needs of their client companies.

      SMEs report that a major impediment to taking a long-term view of training
      needs is the mobility of the workforce up to and including middle
      management level.

      Factors driving New Training Needs

      Sector experts indicated that the intense competition means that customer
      service skills are the dominant driver of training across the sector.

      In food-retailing outlets hygiene and food safety standards such as Hazard
      Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) constitute another core
      element in company training.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs      Page 30
      3.3.2      SME training practices and QA approach

      Main Target Groups of Training Providers

      The 2004 Enterprise Strategy Group report recommended that state
      training agencies should align their training efforts to try to move all
      employees “one step up” along the Further Education and Training Awards
      Council (FETAC) ladder. As a particular priority, policy intervention would be
      required to ensure that the low-skilled were not left behind in the move
      towards a knowledge society. The retail sector has a large portion of such
      low-skill employees.

      From a company/sector perspective some sector specialists argue that the
      key people to target are the owners and top management — investing in
      their development will, in turn, see an increased SME demand for training
      at lower levels.

      Speaking to Providers revealed that a substantial portion of their efforts
      was focused on operator-level skills.

      Our survey of companies showed that the progressive SMEs who
      understand the importance of training saw a rationale for training at all
      levels from unskilled to top management.

      Designing the Training Programmes

      Sector specialists and providers report that training courses are generally
      designed by the supply side — state agencies and training consultants
      commissioned by them — with some input from the SMEs.

      There is an inevitable tension between the SME’s desire for customised
      training programmes (including a substantial company input into the
      design) and the supply-side preference for a broader, more generic offering
      that will attract more customers. The State, too, is averse to funding
      narrowly customised programmes that do not offer sectoral externalities.

      SME Training Policies and Practices

      The majority of companies surveyed reported that more than 75% of staff
      were involved in annual training provision. There were, however, some
      companies who indicated that less than 25% were in receipt of training
      annually.

      These coverage figures are considerably in excess of the typical
      percentages reported in CSO data.14 It must be realised that these figures
      are “self-reported” and include training courses of a very basic nature such
      as ‘first aid training.’

      In our SME survey the majority of companies indicated that they had a
      written training policy — in some instances this was at the behest of QA
      system requirements such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC)
      standards. However the policy often manifested itself as a fairly
      rudimentary “training calendar” or “training matrix” comprising the roster of
      training assignments over the year.



14
  See Fox, Roger (2003),“Participation of the Employed in Education/Training 2002”, FÁS. Based on
2002 Quarterly National Household Survey data the percentage of employed people (25-64 yrs)
receiving Education/Training was 8.3%.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs               Page 31
      Sector specialists and training providers believed that most companies in
      the retail sector were not yet taking a thoroughly strategic view of training
      i.e. designing long-term training policies that complemented the strategic
      development of the company.

      The sector experts indicated that the preferred mode of training for SMEs is
      on-the-job or the in-house class situation because they do not have spare
      staff capacity to cover absent trainees.

      FÁS actively encourage training providers to offer e-learning products which
      SME staff can access during work hours.

      The SME survey not surprisingly confirmed an overwhelming preference for
      in-company training.

      The SME survey also indicated a marked preference for private sector
      training providers. Various reasons for this preference include more up-to-
      date course content, less bureaucracy and more flexible delivery methods.

      Retail Skillnets are proving to be an increasingly popular training vehicle,
      combining the merits of company-led course development with public
      funding:

      CREST and IBEC Retail Skillnets

      The CREST Skillnet is a nationwide initiative aimed at independent retail
      owner/managers and is managed by South Dublin Chambers of Commerce.
      CREST provides training on the core retail skills of customer service,
      product positioning, staff management, retail marketing and, importantly
      sets standards. The nationwide structure of the CREST Skillnet, directed by
      a committee of retailers in four regions, is helping the national independent
      retail sector share ideas, exchange opinions and embrace new work
      practices to benefit local retailers.

      The IBEC Retail Skillnet programme originated in the North West but is now
      a nationwide programme offering on-the-job training for a career in
      retailing. On completion of the programme employees attain a FETAC level
      5 qualification in retail. Those who train to be Assessors are awarded a
      FETAC level 6 certificate. Further information on Skillnets is presented in
      Section 2.3.2 above and in Appendix 5.

      The stylised barriers to SMEs training listed above equally apply in the
      Retail sector. Major obstacles to implementing training programmes in
      Retail SMEs include part-time working, shift working, lack of childcare
      facilities, and the distance from training providers. The high staff turnover
      rate in the sector at floor level also means that training is a risky
      investment.

      Poaching is occurring in the Retail sector but SMEs seem to take a
      philosophical approach, saying “what comes around goes around” i.e. all
      companies benefit at some stage from others’ investment in training.

      The typical response given for expenditure on training as a percentage of
      turnover was “less than 1%” but some companies were not able to estimate
      this ratio.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 32
      Selection of Training Providers

      Private training providers are very active in the use of mail-shots etc to
      promote their products. Our discussions with public providers indicated that
      they, too, maintained a high profile with the companies.

      But our SME survey found that many companies were not approached by
      the public providers and the companies did not proactively visit these
      providers’ websites.

      However some public programmes such as FÁS’s “Excellence through
      People” (see section 3.5.1R below) have been promoted very successfully
      and enjoy a wide awareness.

      Sector specialists believed that SMEs were averse to investing in training
      and predicted that Cost would be the top criterion.

      Our SME survey indicated that the other criteria can be even more critical,
      particularly relevance and arrangements (in-house vs. external).

      SMEs’ attitudes to Quality Assurance

     Food Retail SMEs indicate that they operate QA systems to comply with
     HACCP and other safety standards. These QA systems had implications for
     their quality approach to training.

     Other Retail outlets were more ad hoc and reactive and did not operate a
     systematic quality approach to the development of their human resources.

      Impact of Training on SMEs’ Performance

      SMEs report that there are many benefits accruing from their investment in
      training and all contribute to increased productivity.

      Favourable comments from SME Managers as a result of training included:

      •     employees have an improved understanding of customer needs;

      •     staff motivation has improved;

      •     staff efficiency has increased;

      •     staff turnover has stabilised/reduced.

      The primary gain is enhanced customer care which lies at the root of
      competitive success in the retail sector. Improved product knowledge is
      also a key competitive advantage. Perhaps the boost in staff morale and
      teamwork from meaningful training contributes most to productivity.

      Many SMEs felt strongly that staff training was the differentiating factor
      between companies in their sector. However their main perspective here
      was customer care. Not many discussed training in other areas such as
      buying, inventory or innovation.

      Training Providers’ approach to Quality Assurance

      Most public sector training programmes are nationally accredited. This is
      not yet the case for private sector programmes. However, there is a
      significant drive underway to accredit all training programmes in line with
      the FETAC national qualifications framework.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 33
      FÁS has adopted its own Training Standards designed to promote and
      improve the quality of the training it supports. The FÁS Training
      Specification Standards No. QA 58/01 sets out the minimum criteria which
      should be addressed when drawing up a training specification:

      1.    How the programme is to be assessed for certification purposes;

      2.    Identify the certifying body; titles, levels and codes of assessments;
            any endorsements;

      3.    State credits towards other accreditation;

      4.    Where locally designed, must comply with guidelines for assessment
            as laid out in the FÁS publication Assessing trainee attainment.

      Continuous training of Trainers

     Providers claim that they keep their training staff unskilled .

      3.3.3 Views of Representative Organisations, Training
      Providers and SMEs

      Training Qualifications and Skills

      Sector experts claim that well-designed induction courses are having a
      marked impact on the quality of customer care in the Irish Retail sector.

      The IBEC Retail Skillnets is enabling successful participants to achieve a
      FETAC level 5 accreditation based on 8 modules of retail skills tuition. It is
      hoped that this development of accredited qualifications will mean that the
      sector becomes a more attractive career option for school leavers.

      Training Provisions for Special Groups

      The component of non-Irish nationals employed in the Irish Retail sector is
      increasing dramatically, particularly in the main urban centres.

      FÁS, the national training and employment authority, in collaboration with
      Enterprise Ireland, the state development agency for indigenous Irish
      industry, and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, is currently piloting a
      special induction course for immigrant workers, and hopes to roll it out
      nationally in 2007.

      Our SME survey indicates a mixed approach to the training of immigrant
      workers. Some companies have provided special in-company language
      courses. Others restrict recruitment to people already possessing the
      necessary language and cultural skills required for the various departments
      — higher skills being required in customer-interface roles.

      SMEs’ assessment of Training Services Provided

      Companies tended to give a middle score to the training programmes
      offered to them. There was such a variety of courses that it wasn’t possible
      to be categorical about them; however, a constant concern for managers
      was the danger that the courses might drift too much towards academic or
      high corporate issues not relevant or practical for SMEs.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 34
      The great merit of the Skillnets concept was that the participating
      companies were in charge of course content and delivery methods.

      Social Partners’ participation in Training Needs Identification and
      Programmes Evaluation

     The contribution of the Social Partners to training is made at central
     national level in the context of National Agreements.

      3.3.4    Government policies in support of SME training

      Government Incentives for SME Training

      Section 3.2.4 described the two in-employment training measures in the
      Employment and Human Resources Programme of the National
      Development Programme 2000-2006. Public expenditure under these
      schemes has been in the order of €20 million p.a.

      FÁS, Enterprise Ireland, County Enterprise Boards, Skillnets and Fáilte
      Ireland all provide financial subsidies either on the basis of a particular type
      of company (e.g. high-growth potential), size of company (e.g. micro),type
      of skill (e.g. ECDL),sectoral grouping (e.g. food sector Skillnets) or type of
      employee (e.g. low skill operatives in declining industries).

      Previously, a substantial volume of training was subsidised at the level of
      the individual firm, particularly through the FÁS Training Support Scheme
      and through Enterprise Ireland’s Management Development grants. While
      EI still provides significant firm-level funding as part of its company
      development activities, the overall emphasis has shifted to interventions
      that address the needs of multiple companies, addressing agendas
      identified collectively by industry or by State agencies. Industry training
      programmes commissioned by FÁS and Enterprise Ireland form a part of
      this pattern, as does funding via Skillnets for industry training networks, or
      through County Enterprise Boards for PLATO networks and similar activities.

      3.3.5    Recommendations

      Proposals for Further Policy Initiatives

     The feeling among sector experts was that the increase in the “new Irish”
     immigrant workers into the sector will continue to be the big story. The FÁS
     pilot induction programme is eagerly anticipated, and SMEs themselves are
     looking for the opportunity to suggest further modules.

     The emergence of FETAC certification in Retail training has been welcomed
     as a tool to ease recruitment. What is now needed is an impetus to HEIs to
     incorporate courses at higher FETAC levels for middle and upper
     management roles in Retail.


3.4 Hotel, Tourism and Catering sector

      3.4.1    Training Needs

      Recruitment of Specialised and Trained Personnel

      Fáilte Ireland (FI) has a proud history of striving to put the wide array of
      Hospitality skills on an accredited and standardised basis by designing initial
      training courses in third level colleges to FETAC certificate levels. This



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 35
      means that Hospitality SMEs are in a position to recruit qualified personnel
      for their diverse disciplines.

      Notwithstanding this potential pipeline from vocational education colleges it
      has been described above how a shortage of Irish applicants for lower skill
      jobs has forced FI to recruit abroad. The tight labour market at the low skill
      end has meant that HR managers are spending a lot of their time in
      recruitment and selection processes with the result that staff development
      and performance management tasks suffer.

      At higher skill levels there is a healthy mobility in qualified personnel (this
      has the indirect benefit of inducing an upward drift in general sectoral skills)
      which facilitates recruitment at this level.

      Need for New and Updated Skills

      Tourism is a people-centred service industry and staff are an integral part
      of the consumer experience. Tourism must look to the people working in
      the industry to serve as a principal source of competitive advantage. There
      must be something unique in the skills, know-how, and behaviour of those
      working in the industry that will enable the Irish tourism product to
      distinguish itself from that of competitor countries.

      SME managers report that their single biggest concern is to monitor the
      interaction between their staff and customers and move quickly to remedy
      any deficiencies in the customer experience.

      Front-office or “concierge” skills are obviously a key element in the Hotel
      sector and Fáilte Ireland (FI) has designed a training programme on a CD
      ROM so that SMEs can address this vital area. Staff must be able to offer a
      welcoming environment coupled with in-depth local knowledge to cater for
      customers’ requests and enquiries.

      A corollary of the need for welcoming operator skills is the need for good
      people management skills — the way people are managed and rewarded.
      The tourism industry has struggled with aspects of front-line management,
      with performance management and review, and with the provision of
      feedback and direction to staff. Managers need an array of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’
      skills:

      •     Personal Skills: Leadership, Goal Setting, Personal Planning, Financial
            Planning;

      •     Lifestyle Issues, Involvement with the Wider Community;

      •     Communication Skills: Listening, Rapport Building, Networking,
            Meeting, Negotiating;

      •     Confidence Building, Motivating;

      •     Human Resource Skills: Practical Recruitment, Training, Appraisal,
            Compensation and Benefits, Career Planning.

      Identification of SMEs’ Training Needs

      Tourism is a very practical industry with a focus on the operation
      immediately at hand. This can involve periods of intense activity when
      demand peaks and a quality service must be assembled and produced —
      very often in front of the watching customer. Over time, the cumulative
      effect of such operations can be to emphasise the realisation of short-term



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 36
      goals. In such circumstances, tourism enterprises can overlook the longer
      term or strategic issues that confront them.

      The longer-term needs are usually identified not by individual companies
      but by the development agency and by professional bodies such as the Irish
      Hotels Federation and the Irish Tour Operators Association.

      A typical trigger could be a perceived shortage of staff in particular
      occupations. For example, FI responded to a shortage of chefs by
      persuading the third level education institutes to offer “accelerator courses”
      to qualify chefs in a one-year period.

      Factors driving New Training Needs

      The fact that FI has to recruit overseas drives the need for a substantial
      amount of induction training in language and cultural skills.

      The food regulation directives (national and international) drive the need for
      food safety courses.

      New technology is also a significant driver in the hospitality sector —
      particularly in catering skills.

      Hotel front-office staff have to master various check-in systems such as
      Fidelio and Opera.

      Travel Agency staff have to train in the sector-standard booking systems
      such as Target, or the training course of International Air Transport
      Association-Universal Federation of Travel Agencies (IATA UFTA), or Global
      Reservation Systems (GRS) such as Galileo.

      3.4.2    SME training practices and QA approach

      Main Target Groups of Training Providers

      Public sector providers such as Fáilte Ireland offer different training
      packages to address the needs of all these groups:

      •     Owner/Managers;

      •     Administration;

      •     Technical;

      •     Skilled Workers;

      •     Unskilled, Seasonal.

      Private sector providers tend to specialise in particular segments.

      Designing the Training Programmes

      Many training programmes used by Hospitality SMEs are generic, off-the
      shelf courses — “what works in one organisation will work in the others”.

      Larger hotel chains with properly resourced HR development structures
      tend to evolve in-house training manuals to perpetuate a ‘house style’.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 37
      SME Training Policies and Practices

      SMEs reported a coverage of above 75%. This high figure is substantially
      explained by the routine provision of food hygiene and fire & safety
      training.

      SMEs report that, in high season, their training policy consists of attending
      to the mandatory routine training in basic areas such as food hygiene, fire
      safety drill, materials handling and first aid.

      In the off-season management can sit down to identify their high-
      performing staff and consider ways of upgrading their skills, both to
      enhance customer service and to try to retain the loyalty of these ‘star
      staff’. HR Managers claim that retaining the high performers is the key to
      success in the hospitality business. They see their role as helping these
      teams to acquire the right skills, and to learn new skills when business
      circumstances require it. The provision of such training and structured
      career paths are the key to staff retention.

      The “real-time” nature of the business makes it imperative that training is
      provided in-house (both on-the-job and classroom options) in short, snappy
      instalments.

      External training is generally confined to manager level personnel who are
      prepared to enlist on evening and weekend courses in the third level
      colleges and universities.

      The SME survey indicated that the sector is well served by the public
      providers, FÁS (who funded consultants for basic food hygiene and first aid
      courses) and Fáilte Ireland who arrange more technical training for high-
      level skills.

      Private sector training providers are also employed widely both for routine
      courses such as HACCP and for more specialised skills such as events
      management.

      There is a feeling among some SME managers that, while graduates
      possess an adequate level of knowledge, they lack the necessary skills to
      work in the industry. This perception of a somewhat ‘academic bias’ in
      initial education makes managers somewhat reluctant to turn to the
      colleges for further training.

      The establishment of Fáilte Ireland (FI) in 2002 offered a one-stop-shop for
      State support to provide a set of integrated services that delivers balanced
      development across the key tourism management functions of strategic
      planning, human resource development, marketing, product development,
      productivity and competitiveness and financial management.

      FI seek to achieve a complete service provision offering; an essential goal is
      ensuring that support is provided in a balanced way so that, for example a
      company’s marketing or strategic planning needs are matched by human
      resource development.

      A key objective of FI is to tackle the negative perception of jobs and careers
      in the industry due to the relatively low priority accorded by the industry to
      formal educational qualifications. The tourism and hospitality sector has
      traditionally employed a relatively large number of untrained staff, except
      in areas requiring specific skills and in management and supervisory
      positions. FI hopes to cultivate an esteem for craft skills and reposition the
      industry as a career of choice.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 38
      Apart from serving as a direct provider of entry-level skills in its regional
      centres to a diverse range of people wishing to enter the tourism industry
      FI is also involved in two other aspects of training provision:

      •     working in collaboration with Institutes of Technology (ITs) to deliver
            FETAC level 6 courses;

      •     commissioning private sector training providers at different FETAC
            levels.

      The very limited role of the third level education sector in tourism education
      is notable, as is the contribution of the private colleges which represent
      only 10% of total course activity. In the latter case, the courses available
      are predominantly in the non-craft area, and may reflect a relative
      unwillingness of the private sector to make the type of significant capital
      investment in plant and equipment that is normally required in most
      aspects of hospitality skills education.

      A considerable amount of professional staff development and continuous
      learning takes place at shorter in-service courses. These Continuous
      Professional Development (CPD) courses are available from a number of
      bodies, including Fáilte Ireland itself, the Institutes of Technology, as well
      as professional and representative bodies.

      Although some of these programmes are designed to lead to a formal
      educational award, for the most part CPD programmes are shorter courses
      with a definite focus on the workplace and on the application of learning in
      real organisational settings.

      At present, only one Skillnet Network is operating in the Tourism sector.
      This is the Hospitality Management Skillnet which is facilitated by the Irish
      Hotel and Catering Institute (IHCI). It was established in order to support
      member enterprises in developing a “set of nine competencies for effective
      management within the hospitality sector.”

      The cost of training is cited less frequently than other more insuperable
      barriers.

      As with SMEs in general the salient obstacle to training is the disruption to
      ongoing business operations caused when staff are released for training.
      There is a lack of substitute people to “hold the fort”. One new SME
      described how management were encouraging job rotation to create a
      flexible workforce which could cover for people sent out on training. For
      example, people on the front desk were learning bar skills — evidently this
      was not a unionised SME.

      A further difficulty is course location and access — many enterprises do not
      enjoy convenient access to centralised training.

      The least quoted barrier to training is irrelevance. Managers do not argue
      that training is not useful — but they do suggest that it is often not made
      available in an enterprise-friendly way.

      In terms of the low-skills cohort of their staff Hospitality SMEs tend to take
      a very short-term view, often extending only to the end of the current
      tourism season. They do not invest in expensive long-term training for
      these staff and, consequently, are not overly preoccupied by the risks of
      poaching. However, they do invest in their technical and managerial staff
      and have to make a calculation on the likelihood that they will succeed in
      retaining the trained staff to reap the rewards.



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 39
      Selection of Training Providers

      FI operates a dynamic website and regularly posts information on training
      opportunities.

      There is a vibrant hotels network and information on new training courses is
      rapidly disseminated.

      Tourism SMEs can also do their own research to access particular training
      providers.

      Membership of local Chambers of Commerce keeps SMEs in touch with
      training consultants.

      Private providers actively mail-shot hotels and tourism organisations.

      Relevance, Cost and Arrangements were considered as equally key criteria
      by SMEs.

      SMEs’ attitudes to Quality Assurance

      Sector visionaries claim that, in the future, successful business performance
      — irrespective of organisation scale — will depend not on centralised HR
      management but on quality HR practices that are embedded at operational
      team level by line managers.

      At present, however, most experts believe specialist HR staff are essential
      to set up and operate the structures needed to put QA into HR
      development.

      When SME owner/managers are interviewed they concede that they can see
      the merits of a QA approach to HR development but find the cost of hiring
      full-time professional HR expertise prohibitive.

      Tourism SMEs typically do not look beyond their immediate short-term HR
      objectives. Two principal reasons lie behind this “live for now” approach, a
      lack of dedicated HR management, and the “footloose” nature of a
      significant proportion of their personnel.

      Impact of Training on SMEs’ Performance

      SME Managers agree that in the wake of properly designed training
      programmes they have observed a subsequent enhanced performance due
      to improved business practices and efficiencies. This boost in performance
      attends both hard and soft skills acquisition.

      SMEs also comment that when employees are offered good quality training
      the improvement in staff morale translates immediately into improved
      customer service.

      Training Providers’ approach to Quality Assurance

      Fáilte Ireland approved training programmes attract either FETAC or HETAC
      (Higher Education and Training Awards Council) certification. Both these
      awarding bodies have comprehensive QA controls covering Facilities,
      Equipment, Instructor Competence and Training assessment.

      The concepts of validity and reliability are central pillars in all Fáilte Ireland
      assessment systems. The assessment model includes comprehensive
      monitoring and review. Extern examiners, cross moderation and centre




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs       Page 40
      based systems contribute to the process of ensuring quality control within
      the assessment systemi.

      While the standard of FI courses are explicitly guaranteed to meet the
      FETAC or HETAC standards the evaluation of the impact of such training on
      the performance of the SMEs is a more implicit activity, left to the
      assessment of the customer.

      Continuous training of Trainers

      FI claims that it is very careful in ensuring that both its own training staff
      and the external trainers it commissions operate a strict policy of
      continuous improvement.

      3.4.3 Views of Representative Organisations, Training
      Providers and SMEs

      Training Qualifications and Skills

      The salient impact of Failte Ireland’s work in Training in the Hotel, Tourism
      and Catering sector is the achievement of a set of standards-based,
      certified skills for the industry. This has two benefits; one, it brings a
      guarantee of quality to the training provision facilitating staff mobility within
      the sector, and, two, it allows ‘recognition of prior learning’ to be introduced
      as a component of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland’s (NQAI)
      award recognition system.

      Training Provisions for Special Groups

      FI personnel have gone abroad to EU accession countries on a recruitment
      drive organised in conjunction with FÁS and EURES. FI offered successful
      recruits a four months training programme in Ireland to gain Further
      Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) level 4 certification, after
      which they were found work positions in Irish hospitality businesses.

      FI courses for immigrant workers provide intensive training, including
      cultural and language training, as well as operational skills; this service is
      accessible throughout the country. FI provides the text for these courses in
      14 languages.

      Another aspect of FI’s facilitation of immigrant workers is its work on
      Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) in co-operation with FETAC.

      Our SME survey found that the Hotels were very satisfied with the
      performance of these immigrant workers and initial worries that they would
      not replicate the famous “fáilte” have been dispelled.

      SMEs’ assessment of Training Services Provided

      SME managers gave a middle score to the range of training programmes
      offered to their companies. They have misgivings over relevance and mode
      of delivery.

      SMEs argue that training interventions designed to support smaller
      businesses must be planned, packaged, and delivered in a way that suits
      small businesses rather than the training providers. They suggest that such
      programmes should be “short, snappy, relevant and local.”

      SMEs also propose that development interventions in the small business
      sector are likely to work best when they are designed locally, delivered by


Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 41
      local facilitators who understand the tourism industry in the region, and are
      supported by regional networks that have the capacity to supplement local
      training resources by accessing external expertise as and when required.

      There is a belief that e-learning does not represent a complete response to
      learning and skills development in smaller businesses. Whilst the
      contribution of e-learning is recognised, small businesses placed a higher
      value on a learning environment that promotes direct inter-personal
      contact.

      Social Partners’ participation in Training Needs Identification and
      Programmes Evaluation

      Ireland’s national partnership agreements, involving Government, social
      and community partners, include agreed policies in relation to education,
      training and lifelong learning.

      The social partners are also involved in the development of the National
      Development Plan which is a major source of funding for human resource
      development in the Hotel, Tourism and Catering sector.

      At the level of the company, the contribution and impact of the social
      partners is more muted.

      3.4.4    Government policies in support of SME training

      Government Incentives for SME Training

      The main incentives reported by SMEs are those provided through Skillnets
      and Fáilte Ireland’s Continuing Professional Development programme. The
      main benefit reported by the enterprises surveyed is access to training at a
      reduced cost.

      It is anticipated that enterprises in this sector will avail of the newly-
      established County Based Tourism Learning Networks initiative from Fáilte
      Ireland.

      There is an extensive range of laws and regulations impacting on
      enterprises in the tourism sector. These include the following:

      •     Enterprises are required to comply with legal and listing requirements
            for the different types of accommodation;

      •     Enterprises providing food must apply to the Health Service Executive
            for a licence and their premises approved and registered as a stall or
            restaurant;

      •     If intoxicating liquor or wine is served, then an Intoxicating Liquor
            Licence or Wine Retailer’s On-Licence is required; where enterprises
            are seeking to obtain or renew licences, they will need to apply for a
            tax clearance certificate from the Revenue Commissioners;

      •     Premises must be in compliance with Fire Regulations and this is also
            required for any planning or licence or registration applications.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 42
      3.4.5    Recommendations

      Proposals for Further Policy Initiatives

      One of the key proposals elicited by the survey is the need for continual
      Training of Trainers. Tourism has become a fast-moving industry over the
      last decade and new skills are being introduced at an accelerating rate.

      There is a danger of complacency especially when things are going well in a
      booming economy. This trap must be avoided. Trainers should be
      encouraged to use international trips to monitor innovations.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 43
4. Quality approaches in small firms’ VET:
Sectors’ similarities/differences and
interpretation

      The key finding emerging from the study of quality approaches to training
      by SMEs in the three sectors — Food and beverages, Retail and Hotel,
      tourism and catering — is the degree of similarity in all cases. This is
      plausibly explained by the dominant influence of the common factor — the
      fact that training activities in all companies are subject to the inexorable
      constraints of small company size.

      These stylised SME constraints have already been listed:

      •     SMEs tend to operate under a flexible, informal work structure and
            have short career ladders. As a result, not only do they not possess
            the internal structure necessary to focus on long-term personnel
            development, but also labour turnover is relatively high, thus
            discouraging investment in education and training;

      •     SME management lack an appreciation of the beneficial role of
            training and their perception of training as a cost rather than as an
            investment in Human Resources;

      •     SMEs lack a professional HR management resource to identify training
            needs and implement appropriate training solutions

      •     SMEs are disproportionately affected by the disruption to business
            caused by staff unavailability as a result of attending training courses.
            This is the single largest barrier to SME training.

            It is an example of the “lumpiness factor” which militates against
            SMEs: a few staff missing does not unduly disturb the operations of a
            large business but it can profoundly hamper the routines in an SME.

      •     SMEs fear poaching of trained staff by free-riding competitors. The
            “lumpiness” factor again plays against the SME.

      Even at the short-term level (i.e. not even considering the strategic value of
      training for long-term development) there are compelling drivers for a
      quality approach to training operating in each of the sectors. Companies in
      the Food and beverages sector must demonstrate strict compliance with
      food safety and hygiene standards. The manifest imperative for SMEs in the
      Hotel, tourism and catering sector is customer care. A combination of both
      these drivers can come into play in the Retail sector.

      The tension between constraints and drivers explains a good deal of the
      deficit in SME training behaviour in the three sectors. SME managers will
      invest in short-term training to meet the immediate demands for staff
      skills. They also recognise the argument in favour of more strategic long-
      term training. But only a few progressive SMEs in the sectors adopt the
      perspective that envisions the risk of non-training — for them, a quality
      approach to training is a justifiable investment to secure market
      differentiation and customer loyalty.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 44
      The conclusion from this must be that there is a case for continuing
      government intervention to reinforce the case for more strategic training,
      both by awareness programmes and by helping training providers to deliver
      more SME-friendly programmes.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 45
5. Summary of findings, conclusions and
recommendations

      This Section of the report outlines the draft findings arising from the
      research carried out by the Irish team members into quality approaches to
      training by small and medium sized enterprises in the food, retail and hotel,
      tourism and catering sectors.

      The overall conclusion must be that measures by policy makers and training
      providers for the provision of training to Irish SMEs are still quite some
      distance from achieving the robust approach to quality training envisioned
      in the EC’s Common Quality Assurance Framework in terms of Needs
      Identification, Training Planning, Implementation, Assessment/Evaluation
      and Review/Feedback.

      •     Small enterprises are aware that they do not spend as much on
            vocational education and training as their larger competitors.
            Additionally, they accept the validity of the argument that what
            training they do provide should meet an acceptable quality standard;

      •     However, the findings from the literature review — and this is
            confirmed also by the SME survey — indicate that there is a gap
            between what managers believe in relation to quality approaches to
            vocational education and training and what they actually do in
            practice;

      •     The absence of formal quality approaches to vocational education and
            training provision stems from a number of factors. One factor is the
            lack of HR management expertise within small enterprises to be able
            to design and implement quality approaches to staff development.
            Without proper structures and processes, SME managers are unable
            to identify skills deficiencies and put in place appropriate training
            interventions. One of the companies included in the SME survey had
            recognised this deficiency and had recruited a HR executive on a part-
            time basis to develop policies and structures to assess staff training
            requirements and to evaluate the effectiveness of skill
            development/training provided;

      •     Another contributing factor is the short-term planning horizon adopted
            by managers of small enterprises in relation to HR development.
            Unlike their larger competitors, small enterprises often do not view
            their staff as a source of competitive advantage and rarely make
            training plans further than 12 months ahead. There is also the issue
            that SME managers have a great fear of staff being poached by
            competitors which reinforces their unwillingness to up-skill their
            employees in a generic way (SMEs are less averse to providing highly
            company-specific training);

      Marketplace Signals

      The survey identified positive signals from the marketplace stipulating
      better quality in enterprise training. It has revealed the important role
      played by customers and suppliers in encouraging small companies to
      incorporate quality approaches to staff development. The report notes the
      role played by the UK grocery multiple, Tesco, in the Irish food industry in


Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 46
      stipulating the adoption of formal training policies by its suppliers. The retail
      sector study also revealed the role played by wholesalers/franchise holders
      in encouraging independent SME retailers to upskill their employees. Not
      only do these suppliers arrange training programmes for the staff of their
      customers/franchisees but they also have the managerial resources to be
      able to provide support in relation to needs assessment and evaluation.

      Government response

      The Irish government agencies have not been complacent about the deficit
      in enterprise training by SMEs. Section 2.3.4 discussed the various EGFSN
      and Small Business Forum reports to government analysing the situation
      and making recommendations, and presented some of the key initiatives
      announced in the FÁS Strategy 2006–2009:

      •     SME-friendly Training Programmes
            FÁS are planning a major new initiative for SME managers to provide
            them with a flexible, relevant, method of acquiring core skills for their
            job. Courses will be defined in conjunction with representatives of
            SMEs to ensure their relevance, and will be delivered locally in short
            modules usually in the evening or at weekends. It is envisaged that
            FÁS will conduct such programmes in co-operation with local business
            groups (e.g. Chambers of Commerce, trade associations).

      •     Train the Trainers
            FÁS also plan to intensify their efforts to develop trainer skills within
            SMEs by encouraging smaller companies to develop basic training
            skills in at least one member of their management team. FÁS has
            earmarked part of the budget of the Competency Development
            Programme to cover both the upskilling of professional trainers and
            basic training skills for other staff.

      •     Using Public Procurement to drive HR development
            Because of the disappointing number of companies who applied for
            the Excellence through People (ETP) programme, FÁS is looking at the
            UK experience where participation in a similar programme (Investors
            in People) has become a requirement for Government procurement
            contracts. FÁS believe that a non-mandatory, preference process in
            Ireland for public purchasing would prove an invaluable mechanism to
            boost the ETP and plans to consult with the relevant authorities to
            explore this option.

      •     Other Training Inducements
            FÁS are re-examining schemes to incentivise SME training that had
            been proposed in recent discussions among the Social Partners. These
            include fiscal measures involving a combination of government,
            enterprise and employee cost sharing such as Individual Learning
            Accounts and statutory Paid Learning Leave.

      Proactive Agency Role in Identifying Training Needs

      The McIver literature review (2004) looked for practical proposals put
      forward to address the deficit of HR management resources in SMEs. It
      cited the 2002 report of the Taskforce on Lifelong Learning (p.51) which
      suggested that the government agencies and industry representative bodies
      should take a more proactive role in identifying training needs. For
      example, Enterprise Ireland should develop a mechanism for identifying and
      supporting the skill needs of its client companies. Likewise the 4th Report of
      the EGFSN in 2003 (p.71) recommended that FÁS and EI developmental


Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 47
      advisors should undertake a specific training programme to assist them in
      their ability to identify training needs.

      Network Approach to Training

      There has been a significant policy emphasis in Ireland on a network
      approach to training involving small enterprises (the Skillnets programme is
      a key example of this; the new County Based Tourism Learning Network
      initiative from Fáilte Ireland is another).

      •     Tansey (2003, p.19) argued that “enterprises, and particularly SMEs,
            should be advised that two can train cheaper than one”. He observed
            that training markets for SMEs function imperfectly, but that the
            resulting difficulties “can be overcome by co-operative and collective
            training provision through networks of enterprises operating in the
            same sector or geographic region.”

      •     Overall ‘Skillnets is de-mystifying training for small companies by
            developing practical tools to analyse and meet training needs, quickly,
            locally and effectively.’ The Skillnets approach acknowledges the time
            and people constraints on SMEs. Skillnets also recognises that the
            solution to encouraging SMEs to share information and knowledge lies
            in building trust and confidence between members of the network
            over time.

      TMA Conclusions
      The situation at the moment is that government agencies and training
      providers are preoccupied with getting SMEs to do any training at all, never
      mind higher considerations of quality approaches to training.

      TMA considered the strengths and weaknesses of the training situation for
      Irish SMEs:


      Strengths                                 Weaknesses
      • Agency training support                 • Lack of awareness or conviction
        initiatives such as the FÁS ETP           of SME managers;
        and CDP;
                                                • Short-term SME planning
      • Agency Register of Approved               horizon;
        Trainers;
                                                • SME time/staff constraints —
      • NQAI and FETAC standards are in           cannot afford to let staff off-site;
        place;
                                                • SME Cost constraints;
      • Skillnets training platform.
                                                • No HR management resource.



      TMA Recommendations:

      1.    Awareness Problem
            •     CEDEFOP to mount a promotion campaign to encourage policy
                  makers and training providers to implement the CQAF in regard
                  to training provision for SMEs
                  [or CEDEFOP to lobby the relevant body — DG EAC?];




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 48
            •     An authoritative paper on the CQAF to be commissioned,
                  incorporating persuasive case studies and good practical
                  examples. Also publish a practical guide on CQAF
                  implementation which would target the information needs of
                  government and training providers;
            •     Get the CQAF message out to the national government
                  departments, social partners, business associations and training
                  providers.

      2.    CEDEFOP or Leonardo should launch a pilot CQAF programme for
            SMEs.
            •     They could consult national government agencies to select
                  appropriate enterprise sectors;
            •     After a successful pilot the programme should be mainstreamed.

      3.    Equip the government agencies (FÁS, Enterprise Ireland, County
            Enterprise Boards, Skillnets) to train up CQAF implementation
            specialists.

      4.    Government agencies should exploit their funding leverage to drive
            the CQAF implementation. Skillnets, too, has leverage here — a
            number of individual SME networks funded by Skillnets have already
            focused on the quality aspect of training, but there is scope for the
            parent Skillnets programme to promote the quality agenda
            comprehensively within the networks of small enterprises that it
            funds.

      5.    The Cost problem for SMEs could be tackled by schemes such as the
            proposed Tax Incentives, Individual Learning Accounts and Paid
            Learning Leave.

      6.    More of an impediment perhaps than cost, the SMEs’ time/staff
            constraint could be tackled by encouraging a greater range of e-
            learning courses and materials so that SME staff can train at their own
            pace in their own locations. Encouraging more cross-training within
            the companies can create more flexibility which could allow
            opportunities for off-site training.

      Final TMA observations:
      Commentators generally acknowledge the Time/Staff factor as one of the
      SME constraints — the fact that SMEs cannot give staff time off to train.
      But, when the commentators propose solutions, they invariably stray into
      solving the Cost constraint they recommend grants and tax incentives to
      defray the cost of training programmes — but this does not address the
      need for substitute staff to keep the business ticking over while trainees are
      absent. Much closer policy attention needs to be paid to this key problem.
      Suggestions usually involve in-company e-learning solutions, but this
      clashes with empirical evidence that external training courses work better
      because they allow the trainees to concentrate without interruptions from
      stressed colleagues, and, more importantly, they give them valuable access
      to their peers from other companies.

      There is thus an ongoing debate on the merits of in-company versus
      external training. The literature seems to suggest that the more general



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 49
      training received on external courses is of more economic benefit, certainly
      for the sector as a whole (providing more externalities), but also for the
      individual companies — this is borne out by empirical evidence that
      companies are prepared to pay for generic training. However, the literature
      also informs us that companies are particularly anxious to equip their
      workers with company-specific skills because this is their core business and
      the source of their competitive advantage. Company-specific skills also
      have the advantage that they do not tempt potential poachers.

      It is important to bear in mind the important difference between the reach
      accreditation and that of the CQAF. In the case of Ireland the NQAI and its
      award bodies FETAC and HETAC are statutorily obliged to assure the
      standards of their accredited training courses; likewise the government
      agencies such as FÁS, Enterprise Ireland, Teagasc and Fáilte Ireland
      operate their own ‘assessment’ systems; but this only refers to validating
      the standard of course material (and delivery methods). It does not extend
      to considering whether the particular training is in fact needed by the
      company (or trainee) and whether the trained staff do in fact make a
      resultant enhanced contribution to company performance. This is the virtue
      of the CQAF: it looks at this bigger picture.

      TMA concur with the thrust of the Tansey/McIver 2006 report which
      highlights the leverage effect of supporting training for SME management
      development in the impetus it provides for the training of other employees.

      TMA endorse the call from several commentators for a more regular
      scheduling of national in-employment training surveys.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 50
Appendices

Appendix 1:            Sources of further information
      Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
      www.entemp.ie

      FÁS, the national training and employment authority
      www.fas.ie

      Enterprise Ireland, the state development agency for indigenous Irish
      industry
      www.enterprise-ireland.com

      Expert Group on Future Skills Needs
      www.skillsireland.ie

      Forfás, the policy and advisory board for enterprise, trade, science,
      technology and innovation
      www.forfas.ie

      National Qualifications Authority of Ireland
      www.nqai.ie

      Further Education and Training Advisory Council (FETAC)
      www.fetac.ie

      Higher Education and Training Advisory Council (HETAC)
      www.hetac.ie

      Skillnets
      www.skillnets.com

      Fáilte Ireland
      www.failteireland.ie


Appendix 2:            Bibliography
      Government of Ireland, National Development Plan 2007–2013:
      Transforming Ireland—A Better Quality of Life for All, Dublin, 2007;

      Enterprise Strategy Group, Ahead of the Curve: Ireland’s Place in the Global
      Economy, Dublin, July 2004;

      Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, National Employment
      Action Plan 2003–2005, Dublin, 2003;

      Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Business & Employment Survey 2005, Vol. 1: Hotel
      Sector;

      Fáilte Ireland, Competing Through People: A Human Resource Development
      Strategy for Irish Tourism 2005–2015, Dublin, 2005;

      Tourism Policy Review Group, New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An agenda
      for action, Dublin, 2003;




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs      Page 51
      Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), Ireland’s Future Skills Needs
      to 2020, February 2007;

      Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, Fourth Report, 2003;

      Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, The Demand and Supply of Skills in
      the Food Processing Sector, Forfás, Dublin, 2003;

      Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, In-company Training Report, Forfás,
      Dublin, 1999;

      Forfás, The Dynamics of the Retail Sector in Ireland, Dublin, 2000;

      Consumer Strategy Group, Making Consumers Count, Dublin, 2005;

      FÁS, Statement of Strategy 2002–2005, Dublin, 2002;

      FÁS, Building on our Vision: Statement of Strategy 2006–2009, Dublin,
      2005;

      FÁS, Annual Employment Survey 2005, Dublin, 2006;

      FÁS, Excellence Through People Award: Standard Certification, Dublin;

      FÁS/Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, National Skills Bulletin 2006,
      Dublin, 2006;

      Bord Bia/Irish Food Board, Annual Report 2004, Dublin, 2005;

      Tansey, P., The Training Imperative: 2002–2003, FÁS Labour Market
      Update, Tansey, Webster, Stewart & Company, Dublin, 2003;

      Tansey, Webster, Stewart & Company/McIver Consulting, SME Management
      Development in Ireland, Dublin, 2006;

      McIver Consulting (2004), Synthesis Report/Literature Review on Aspects of
      Training of those at Work in Ireland, report to Expert Group on Future Skills
      Needs;

      Fox, R., Company Training in Ireland, FÁS, Dublin, 2001;

      Fox, R., Training in Companies — How does Ireland Score, FÁS, Dublin,
      2002a;

      Doyle, G. M., Making Networks Work: A Review of Networks in Ireland and
      Abroad With Particular Reference to Training and Human Resource
      Development, Skillnets, Dublin, 2000;

      Denny, K., Harmon, C. & O’Connell, P.J., Investing in People: The Labour
      Market Impact of Human Resource Interventions Funded Under the 1994–
      1999 Community Support Framework in Ireland, Economic and Social
      Research Institute, Dublin, 2000;

      National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, National and International
      Practices and Trends in the Classification or Grading of Awards in Further
      Education and Training and Higher Education and Training: Research
      Findings, Dublin.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs    Page 52
Appendix 3:                 Sectoral profile—statistics

A3.1 Food sector

          2003 Statistics
                                            Irish     Foreign        Total

                                                                       68
No of Enterprises                           630           56
                                                                        6

No Engaged                               35,387       11,726       47,113

Turnover
                                       6,726,233    6,014,584   12,740,820
€000s

Exports
                                                                 5,591,889
€000s

Exports as % Turnover                                               43.9%

Gross Value Added
                                        996,022     2,521,717    3,517,738
€000s
Gross Value Added per Person Engaged
                                              28         215           75
€000s
Labour Costs
                                        626,984      346,440      973,424
€000s

Labour Costs per Person Engaged
                                         17,718       29,545       20,661
€000s




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs     Page 53
      Distribution of F&D Enterprises by Employment Size



                           No of                                       Net Output Net Output
  NACE                     Local     Total    Persons                   per Local per Person
   Code    Size Class       Units Persons     engaged     Net Output         Unit   Engaged
  15–16 (Employment)       (LUs) Engaged        per LU         €000s       €000s       €000s
            Under 10         209    1,171           5.6       45,998         220        39.3
               10–19         166    2,274         13.7        81,598         492        35.9
                20–49        202     6,495        32.2      265,069         1,312         40.8
                  50–99       95     6,341        66.7      480,689         5,060         75.8
                100 199       86    11,819       137.4    1,054,895        12,266         89.3
                200–249       18     4,086       227.0      334,222        18,568         81.8
                250–499       26     8,661       333.1    1,560,841        60,032        180.2
                   500+        8     5,439       679.9      658,110        82,264        121.0
                   Total     810    46,286        57.1    4,481,422         5,533         96.8


      Gross Output = Sales Value of Goods produced in the year (whether sold or inventoried)

      Net Output = Gross Output less Industrial Input

      Industrial Input = Cost of Materials + Industrial Services + Fuel & Power

      Turnover ~ Gross Output

      Gross Value Added ~ Net Output [both include Labour Costs]




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs       Page 54
A3.2 Retail sector


          Irish retail sector
Nace          Principal Activity          No of          Turnover     Gross       Wages        Number           Full- time   Part- time      Total 1
Rev 1.1                                   Enterprises    (€000s)      Value       and          of               Employees    Employees       Number
                                                                      Added       Salaries     Persons                                       of
                                                                      (€000s)     (€ 000)      Engaged                                       Employees
52.1         Retail sale in non-          4,330                       2,430,114   1,161,384     74,243          26,460       42,075           68,535
             specialised stores                          10,652,638
52.2         Retail sale of food,         2,279           1,297,947   231,519     116,983         11,207        5,375        3,139            8,513
             beverages and tobacco
             in specialised stores
52.3         Retail sale of               1,009           1,706,477   466,888     190,541         9,090         5,320        2,977            8,296
             pharmaceutical and
             medical goods,
             cosmetic and toilet
             articles
52.4         Other retail sale of new     9,577           8,275,145   1,706,265   930,224         62,056        33,714       19,340          53,054
             goods in specialised
             stores
52.5         Retail sale of second-       253             60,682      18,734      8,866        1,023            435          302             737
             hand goods in stores
52.6         Retail sale not in stores    405             658,325     131,903     35,750       2,330            946          1,015           1,961
                                          17,853         22,651,214   4,985,423   2,443,748    159,950          72,250       68,848          141,097



          Retail
Turnover Class (€000s)                   No of          Total Turnover (€000s)            Gross            Wages         Number       Full- time       Part- time   Total 1
                                         Enterprises                                      Value            and           of           Employees        Employees    Number
                                                                                          Added            Salaries      Persons                                    of
                                                                                                           (€ 000)       Engaged                                    Employees
Under 100,000                             4,116         234,367                           55,506           16,278         6,937           803          1,154        1,957
100,000 and under 1, 000,000             11,733          4,769,006                        921,883          414,111        44,086          18,836       12,324       31,160
1,000,000 and under 5,000,000             2,364          4,859,005                        962,049          550,584        35,759          21,882       12,311       34,193

5,000,000 and over                       409            12,873,836                        3,087,102        1,487,502      75,231       31,737           43,319      75,056
total                                    18,623         22,736,215                        5,026,540        2,468,475     162,013      73,258           69,108       142,367




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs                               Page 55
          Retail
Size Class                       No of         Total Turnover (€000s)      Gross         Wages       Number    Full- time   Part- time   Total 1
                                 Enterprises                               Value         and         of        Employees    Employees    Number
                                                                           Added         Salaries    Persons                             of
                                                                                         (€ 000)     Engaged                             Employees
1 – 9 Persons engaged            16,558        6,591,154                   1,244,273     514,099     53,560    21,935       13,266       35,201
10 – 19 Persons engaged          1,216         2,221,676                   423,941       261,949     17,785    11,025       5,901        16,926
20 – 49 Persons engaged          547           1,963,673                   393,900       252,399     16,529    9,850        6,344        16,194
50 or more Persons engaged       302           11,959,712                  2,964,427     1,440,028   74,139    30,448       43,597       74,045
total                            18,623        22,736,215                  5,026,541     2,468,475   162,013   73,258       69,108       142,367




          Retail Enterprises with 20+ Employees
Nationality of Ownership         No of         Total Turnover (€000s)      Gross         Wages       Number    Full- time   Part- time   Total 1
                                 Enterprises                               Value         and         of        Employees    Employees    Number
                                                                           Added         Salaries    Persons                             of
                                                                                         (€ 000)     Engaged                             Employees
Irish                            798           9,645,651                   2,395,616     1,205,827   66,510    31,489       34,607       66,096
Foreign                          51            4,277,735                   962,711       486,601     24,158    8,809        15,334       24,143
                                 849           13,923,386                  3,358,327     1,692,428   90,668    40,298       49,941       90,239




A3.3: Hotel, tourism and catering sector

          2003 tourism statistics

          Estimated number of tourism sector employees, 2004–2005
                                                               2004                       2005                 % Change
Hotels                                                        53,637                     54,095                      0.9
Guesthouse                                                     2,849                      2,918                      2.4
Self-Catering Accommodation                                    3,813                      3,641                      4.5
Restaurants                                                   41,367                     43,309                      4.7
Non-Licensed Restaurants                                      15,407                     16,589                      7.7
Public Houses                                                 92,000                    88,986                       3.3
Tourism Services and Attractions                              35,016                     36,421                      4.0
Total                                                       244,089                    245,959                      0.8
Source: Fitzpatrick Associates’ survey of tourism sector operators, 2005




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs               Page 56
          Hotels and catering
Nace         Principal       No of     Turnover      Gross         Wages        Number        Full- time      Part-        Total 1
Rev 1.1      Activity        Enter     (€000s)       Value         and          of            Employe         time         Number
                             prises                  Added         Salaries     Persons       es              Employe      of
                                                     (€000s)       (€ 000)      Engaged                       es           Employe
                                                                                                                           es
55.1         Hotels           787       1,872,828    826,286       589,865       38,432          24,215        13,668       37,883
55.3         Restaurants      4,279     1,905,889    736,618       430,891       40,576          20,215        16,029       36,244
55.4         Bars            6,896     3,368,744     1,007,639     487,730       45,335          17,904        17,876       35,780
55.5         Canteen &       339       379,569       121,569       133,938       9,206           5,749         3,049        8,798
             Catering
                             12,301    7,527,030     2,692,112     1,642,424    133,549       68,083          50,622       118,705



          Hotels and Catering by turnover levels
Turnover Class (€000s)                No of         Total        Gross         Wages       Number         Full- time     Part- time     Total 1
                                      Enterprises   Turnover     Value         and         of             Employees      Employees      Number
                                                    (€000s)      Added         Salaries    Persons                                      of
                                                                               (€ 000)     Engaged                                      Employees
Under 100,000                         2,346         183,436      45,193        16,191       5,876          1,043          1,510          2,553
100,000 and under 1, 000,000          8,580         3,001,223    954,768       488,708      54,508         23,510         20,418         43,929
1,000,000 and under 5,000,000         1,197         2,385,511    865,631       542,656      37,994         21,615         15,563         37,178
5,000,000 and over                    179           1,956,860    826,520       594,869      35,169         21,913         13,131         35,044
Total                                 12,302        7,527,030    2,692,112     1,642,424   133,547        68,081         50,622         118,704



          Hotel & Catering by Employment Categories
Size Class                            No of         Total Turnover (€000s)           Gross           Wages              Number        Full- time    Part- time   Total 1
                                      Enterprises                                    Value           and                of            Employees     Employees    Number
                                                                                     Added           Salaries           Persons                                  of
                                                                                                     (€ 000)            Engaged                                  Employees
1 – 9 Persons engaged                 9,493         2,603,692                        751,470         265,658            36,495        12,584        11,297       23,881
10 – 19 Persons engaged               1,752         1,272,272                        442,727         303,251            25,173        13,217        10,393       23,610
20 – 49 Persons engaged               620           952,010                          362,747         248,752            18,784        10,410        7,958        18,368
50 or more Persons engaged            436           2,699,055                        1,135,168       824,765            53,095        31,871        20,975       52,845
Total                                 12,301        7,527,029                        2,692,112       1,642,426          133,547       68,082        50,623       118,705




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs                           Page 57
Appendix 4:            List of interviewees

      Experts/training providers

      Retail

      David Miller, FÁS, 27-33 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4;

      Sean Carlin, IBEC Retail Skillets, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

      Food

      John Simon, FÁS, 27-33 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4;

      Alison Rylands, Enterprise Ireland, Glasnevin, Dublin 9;

      Hotel, tourism and catering

      Liz Donnelly, Lizdonnelly Training, 2 Seaview Terrace, Donnybrook, Dublin
      4;

      Aidan Pender, Fáilte Ireland, Amiens Street, Dublin 1;

      John Ryall, Cork Chamber of Commerce, Summerhill, Co. Cork.

      SMEs

      Retail

      Kim Kelly, Damien Kiernans, 27 The Rise, Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin;

      Patricia Coyle, McElhinneys, Main Street, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal;

      Andrew Dearey, James Dearey & Co, 3 River Lane, Dundalk, Louth;

      Majella O’Connell, SuperValu, Dungloe, Co. Donegal;

      Patrice Ryan, Donnybrook Fair, 91 Morehampton Road, Dublin 4.

      Food

      Peter Canning, Donegal Cheese, Buncrana, Co. Donegal;

      Cathy Hannigan, Donegal Creameries, Killygordon, Donegal;

      Emma Bates, James McDaid & Sons, Ramelton, Co. Donegal;

      Sorcha Sweeney, Gallaghers Bakery, Ardara, Co. Donegal;

      Leo Cummins, Wilton Candy, Cutlery Road, Newbridge, Co. Kildare;

      Tom O’Hanlon, O’Hanlon Herbs, Ballyknocken, Glenealy, Co. Wicklow.

      Hotel, tourism and catering

      James Malone, Rathgar Travel, 106 Rathgar Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6;

      Margo Harkin, Gallagher’s Encore Hotel, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal;

      Susan McIlveen, Raddison Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 58
Appendix 5:            Skillnets
      Skillnets was set up in April 1999 to mobilise and support groups of
      enterprises to develop strategic answers to their joint training needs by
      establishing networks.

      The Training Networks Programme is funded under the National Training
      Fund through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The
      companies and organisations involved contribute an average of 32% of the
      costs of training. The Board of Directors of Skillnets includes employer
      representatives from Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC),
      the Chambers of Commerce, the Construction Industry Federation and the
      Small Firms Association as well as an employee/trade union representatives
      from Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

      The Skillnets approach is built around training networks where companies
      and organisations get together to decide what training they want, how it
      will be delivered and who will deliver it.

      The National Partnership Training Skillnets recognises that partnership is
      becoming a major tool for change management in Irish organisations. The
      partnership process requires expert facilitation, usually provided by external
      facilitators who are well versed in the issues and process involved.
      However, as the partnership process diffuses through an organisation, it
      may sometimes be effective to deploy in-house facilitation. The objective of
      this training network is to train work-based facilitators for enterprise-based
      partnership. The network provided standards-based accredited training
      while also creating an environment in which expertise and experience can
      be shared and sustained.

      Skillnets Mandate 2005–2010

      The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment has granted a further 5–
      year mandate to Skillnets to provide increased funding and support for
      enterprises to meet their training needs in the period 2005–2010.

      This has been made possible due to the achievements of 90 Training
      Networks already supported by Skillnets from 1999–2004. These networks
      have created and delivered training programmes and other learning
      activities across a broad range of industry and service sectors nationwide.
      Since 1999, they have helped 5,000 Irish enterprises and allowed over
      30,000 staff to improve and meet their skills needs.

      Skillnets is an enterprise-led body, which receives funds from the National
      Training Fund, to support companies and their people. Training Networks
      allows enterprises to decide what training they need, as well as how, where
      and when it should be delivered thus allowing staff to take part in relevant,
      flexible, and cost effective learning. Its role is to provide funding, advice
      and support to underpin the competitiveness of firms as well as increase
      the long term career opportunities and employability of employees.

      Funding for Skillnets from the National Training Fund was budgeted at €55
      million during the period 2005–2010. This funding will be made available to
      enterprise groups on the basis of competitive calls for proposals.

      Accel, which is an in-company training initiative, funded by the European
      Social Fund and the National Training Fund, recognises human resources,
      skills and capabilities of people as a leading factor in every company in
      every sector and seeks to provide a new and significant opportunity for



Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs   Page 59
         enterprises. Accel is an initiative of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and
         Employment and is managed by a subsidiary of Skillnets on behalf of the
         Department. The programme is funded by the European Social Fund and
         the National Training Fund. Up to €16 million will be allocated to approved
         projects for the period 2006–2008.




i
    Assessment and certification procedures for the National Tourism Certification Board
(Ireland), Walsh, M.E. In: Are European vocational systems up to the job? Breuer, K. and
Beck, K., 2002, Peter Lang, Berlin.




Quality approaches in vocational education and training in European SMEs           Page 60

				
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