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This document is the interim report for the new European initiative on “Promoting Online Training Opportunities for the Workforce in Europe” (2017-2019) and has been prepared for the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission.
This work is carried out by PwC, EDEN (the European Distance and E-learning Network) and Espace Mendès France. It presents the key findings from the activities performed during the first phase of the initiative (2017-2018). It contains a state-of-play analysis in the European Union with regard to the adoption of online training solutions by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the acquisition of high-tech skills by the European workforce. It specifically presents a description and in-depth analysis of the market and policies and initiatives on online training for the workforce in specific Member States, as well as inputs for a common vision – towards 2030 – based on stakeholder contributions.
Finally, it addresses key challenges, mitigation measures and proposed solutions. It is very difficult for SMEs to find, attract and retain skilled workers especially in high-tech fields. In addition, they typically cannot afford significant training costs requiring long periods of absence of their staff. However, upskilling and reskilling is of key importance for them, as new technological developments quickly make existing knowledge and skills obsolete. New online training developments offer promising opportunities in this respect as they can provide a more flexible, cost-effective and efficient way to train staff. Online training has already become an invaluable resource for most established, large-scale businesses. The adoption of online training solutions by SMEs happens at a slow pace, as the market – in spite of considerable progress – remains immature. This will change in the coming years, as new developments enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) and pedagogical innovation will foster the emergence of powerful online learning platforms and solutions. In order to stay competitive, SMEs need to embrace the emerging education and training revolution and develop a culture of open learning, just in time and just for me training.