Fellow Travelers. Soft skills for Human Resources Management in SMEs

“Fellow Travelers. Soft skills for Human Resources Management in SMEs” (FETRA) is Erasmus+ strategic partnership project (2020-2022) of six partners’ organisations from Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Portugal and UK. Coordinator is Coworking Plus from Denmark.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe's economy. They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. In the past five years, they have created around 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU. The European Commission considers SMEs and entrepreneurship as key to ensuring economic growth, innovation, job creation, and social integration in the EU. The majority of SMEs and SME activity is concentrated in the largest EU member states. Together Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the UK account for more than 60% of the total number of SMEs as well as the share of total employment. Most of those small businesses are micro companies, what according to the EU definition are companies with less than 10 employees.

Taking these factors into account, the election of the right fellow travelers is one of the key decisions for a small entrepreneur, because the chances of success or fail will largely depend on the people he/she chooses. Employees are a critical component of any business, but though in big corporations, with a specific HRM department, this election is an almost systematic process, in SMEs it is even more important. Employees are part of the delivery of the product and service. Their performance, commitment and loyalty to the job are critical, but even more in a SME.

Obviously, the election has to do with technical competences, but in a micro company, with a more direct and human contact, there are other aspects which are essential. A good hire is one whose skills, knowledge and abilities match well with the requirements of the job and the culture of the small business. Even more today, when studies on Europe’s future skills needs indicate that demand for specific skills in the most dynamic sectors may continue to rise in the future.

Reports from the World Economic Forum such as ‘The Future of Jobs’, edited in 2016 and updated in 2018, set the new skills demanded by the labour market in the next decades in opposition to the old and declining ones. Both coincide in the necessity to develop “human factor” as differentiating element in the era of technology and robotization, fostering the soft skills (communication, creativity, cognitive flexibility, emotional intelligence, decision making, complex problem solving) as mandatory and required weapons for those workers or entrepreneurs who want to be successful in such a changing scenario.

This project is aimed for young entrepreneurs without training in human resources abilities. The soft skills for managing human resources will help entrepreneurs for the success of the company. One of the most important factors for competitiveness and success in entrepreneurs and SMEs are the importance to know how to manage your staff.

The project consortium is composed of 6 organisations from 5 different EU countries in a comprehensive partnership under the coordination of Coworking Plus, consisting of a solid group of training companies with long international experience in the application of soft skills in their programs and a high demand of this kind of formation: GROWTHCOOP (Spain) and Eurospeak (UK). APSU (Portugal) will add its wide range of contacts with Portuguese companies, while Eesti People for People (Estonia) will contribute with its long experience in international and national training activities. Finally, INDEPCIE (Spain) is a training company specialized in coaching, EI and soft skills, which will add a plus of expertise to the program.

To achieve the objectives, the partnership has identified three Intellectual Outputs: IO1 Self-Evaluation in Human Resources soft skills IO2 Development of the Open Educational Resources in human resources soft skills IO3 Intellectual Output 3: Inspiring Success Stories in soft skills By creating training tools for improving the knowledge of entrepreneurs to understand and detect soft skills, the consortium expects to achieve the overall objective of the project: to help entrepreneurs and SMEs in the implementation and development of human resources on their own companies. The project wishes to set new tools and methodologies to support start-ups and SMEs in whatever sector in enhancing their productivity, competiveness and efficiency.

The consortium will use the outcomes of the project, exploiting them with different targets, in further initiatives of the same topic, disseminating them through all its channels and applying them in its internal working dynamics. Companies, teams and organizations involved in a training in soft skills are expected to show a high increase of positive work environment, team work, talent development, productivity, creativity and innovation. Moreover, and in a lower and extensive level, final customers of those companies will be direct beneficiaries (summarizing, the base of European citizens) will enjoy of a healthy emotional environment in their daily contact to all the actors involved in the project.

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This document has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

Contacts:    &nbnbsp;                Kärberi 33-76, 13919 Tallinn, Estonia                    tel:  +372 6 355 697                    e-mail:                   
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