The EDU-SMEs project aligns partner institutions curricula in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. New knowledge and pedagogical approaches will be integrated in existing curricula and students gain new competencies especially in the field of Internationalization of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).
EDU-SMEs corresponds to two main challenges in the Central – Baltic countries:
1. The need to develop business curricula to include more real-life practice.
Vocational education and training plays an important role in providing students with skills that match with labour market needs. But a main challenge today is to achieve stronger integration of classroom learning and practice in the workplace. EDU-SMEs educational partners are all universities of applied sciences that will cooperate with SMEs through real-life assignments.
2. The need to increase internationalization of SMEs.
SMEs form the backbone of the economies of the C-B states, but their international activities are small. Unfortunately SMEs generally have a low ability to enter foreign markets, and available public support is not always according to their needs. EDU-SMEs directly supports individual SMEs in their internationalization through cross-border activities that link SMEs with faculty and students in their target markets.
The new and innovative elements of EDU-SMEs are
• extensive use of ICT for cross-border course activities
• a modern e- learning environment open for both educational institutions and SMEs in the region
• a joint e-learning course with new learning and support materials on Internationalization of SMEs. The course is delivered by faculty from all partner institutions and it is open for students from all these institutions
• a pedagogical approach linking SMEs with faculty and students abroad
• real-life and cross-border assignments with genuine central-baltic cases
Expected Results (EN):
R4.2. Increased share of aligned vocational education and training (VET) programmes in the Central Baltic region
Expected Outputs (EN):
The project has 4 main results:1. Partner schools align their curricula in business management and entrepreneurship. The curricula will include new knowledge on internationalization of SMEs2. New learning materials will be developed and implemented 3. An e-learning environment (IT- platform) will be developed, that will benefit both educational institutions and SMEs. The platform includes the following: a. an e-learning course on Internationalization of SMEs, jointly developed and delivered by the partners b. an area where students and SMEs can test their readiness for internationalization (“internationalization scoreboard”)c. description of existing support functions and resources for SMEs internationalization in all partner countries, with webb-links for easy accessd. a match-making area where assignments provided by the SMEs can be chosen by faculty and students in other countriese. videoclips and interviews with SMEs that have successfully internationalized their business in the central-baltic region (Best Practice examples).4. A pedagogical model for cross-border cooperation between VET institutions and SMEs. That model will be widely disseminated in the region.All these results contribute to increased share of aligned vocational education and training in the Central Baltic region. During the project, partner institutions align their own education. They also produce useful materials and support for other VET and SMEs in the region, for long-term exploitation of project results.