To be successful in the implementation of the Lisbon Growth and Jobs strategy, Europe needs to foster entrepreneurial drive more effectively. The creation and development of SMEs are fundamental to create employment and to further economic growth. This means ensuring the competitiveness and growth possibilities of already existing enterprises as well as supporting the creation of new ventures. We thus need to ensure that SME managers are equipped with the skills they will need to successfully run and develop their companies in a complex world.
In order to identify interesting initiatives from across Europe in the field of management capacity building and provide a basis for future policy development at local, national and European level, 19 EU Members States and Norway nominated a group of experts.
The final report of the expert group on “Management capacity building” highlights the role of management capacity building to support the creation and growth of SMEs. Indeed, without the necessary management skills, many viable companies with good product offers never reach their potential or might even risk being led out of business.
The Report provides 15 examples of “good practice” cases, in the areas of institutional models and networking initiatives, national and regional programmes and e-learning. These examples illustrate different successful ways of supporting management capacity building in SMEs. The Report concludes that all European based SMEs should be encouraged, if they have not already done so, to take the leap towards the integration in their activities of state of the art management tools. To achieve this, basic management and ICT skills need first to be fully mastered and then systematically complemented by a constant drive for further learning and improvement. The Report stresses that it is crucial to break up the isolation of head of SMEs and to ensure that SME managers have access to quality programmes, having a direct positive impact on the profitability of the firm. Short programmes responding to the life cycle of businesses and allowing for peer interactions were considered as most valuable by the expert group. Training actions on how to deal with crises times are specifically needed. Finally, a set of recommendations is proposed - addressing all the actors concerned - on how to strengthen management capacity building.