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Support systems for new activities in rural areas

Part 2 - Individual services

How to use this guide & Table of Contents


Training is one of the LEADER support services
that is usually required throughout project
life cycles. Generally speaking, training
needs change as the project evolves: in the
first stages, training programmes, confidence
raising or capacity building tend to be the
twin sisters of the various methods for
animating new economic activities. At later
stages, training needs tend to become increasingly
specific, technical and individualised. In
fact, the boundary between training and
technical assistance becomes very blurred.


Common problems and bottlenecks Recommendations and guidelines
  • In some countries, training programmes have an extremely bad image with companies, who associate them with adjusting unemployment figures and funding training agencies.
  • The LAG's training strategy has to be based on a direct evaluation of the needs of firms and local people, and not as a means of easy access to funding.
  • Many LAGs have targeted training programmes at specific groups of the population: women and young people (Galloway and Navarre), redundant businessmen (Galloway), university graduates (Mendikoi, Basque Country, Spain).
    Nowadays, there is a wide range of standard methods and training packages for job seekers, people going back to work, self-employed people and for people wishing to set up small businesses. Unfortunately, many of these programmes are organised in contexts where job opportunities are practically non-existent and where the structural disadvantages (lack of infrastructures, no spirit of initiative, etc.) are particularly severe.
  • Training is not an isolated process nor an end in itself, but a coordinated step in a series of support measures in the same way as information, advice, financial support, etc.
    Training should be integrated into the rest of the support system and focus resources on the key blockages in the development process.
  • It is worthwhile trying to establish realistic benchmarks for the time and resources that are usually needed to build the capacity of different groups to undertake viable new economic initiatives.
  • The training strategy is designed in conjunction with local employers from both the public and private sectors.
  • The risk, skill and personal commitment involved in creating one's own job are often underestimated. Training is too short and imparted by people with little real experience.
  • It is usually best to organise a series of short, intensive and highly professional modules, which together form the building blocks of a training itinerary.
  • One hour of structured direct experience is usually worth ten of formal training. LEADER provides the opportunity to take people to other experiences and bring other experiences to the home base, particularly by supporting placements.
  • Additionally, in many areas, the only professional training programmes on offer focus on passing exams or obtaining recognised qualifications, but do not provide any local opportunities.
  • The content of courses and training programmes should be made to measure, in order to meet the specific needs of new activities.
  • Within the overall strategy, three types of training can often be distinguished depending on how advanced the project is:
    • general training to organise activities (in the initial stages of project life cycles), develop attitudes, raise confidence, motivate actors and generate the consensus required for development (e.g. seminars, conferences, visits, etc.);
    • training aimed at project promoters (in the first and second stages of project life cycles). This involves improving their skills in areas such as drawing up business plans, creating a joint marketing approach, etc.;
    • the specific skills required for individual projects (in the second and third stages of project life cycles). These can be taught through one-to- one coaching, although this is an extremely expensive solution. Once again, a potential solution is to pool resources between LEADER groups and other agencies.
  • Often, the availability of training is scattered and consists of a wide range of courses on a myriad of fashionable subjects blended with real long-term needs.
  • The relationship between training and other parts of the local development support system is not always evident.
  • There are few mechanisms for sharing information on and the costs of top- class professional trainers.
  • There is often a gap between the short-term training needs identified by employers and the local community and the long-term training process needed to take up the challenges facing the area.
  • Some LEADER groups use a part of the budget aimed at training to make the local community and employers aware of the future challenges and resulting long-term training needs.
  • Training is not really tuned into the realities facing the company.
  • Some factors are essential in order for training to be effective:
    • the choice of trainers involved in the day-to-day realities facing the areas they are teaching about;
    • a detailed preparation of each seminar (choice of subject matters, choice of teaching methods, etc.);
    • the use of "active" methodologies (case studies, role-play exercises, use of videos, etc.;
    • sending participants preparatory documents for seminars;
    • the organisation of short modules, able to be followed on their own and not requiring attendance of other modules.

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