SMEs in the Latam region, its findings and observations are equally relevant to the Indian situation.
In Latin America, low levels of training among the workforce and managers are a major barrier to the development and improved productivity of SMEs. Moreover, there are big differences between the skills required by the production sector and the training provided by the education system. The study has suggested a few measures to overcome the skills gap:
Public policy must develop and strengthen the connection between the education system—especially in technical and vocational training—and the productive sector. This requires smooth dialogue between entrepreneurs, workers and instructors to develop mechanisms so that qualification needs can be defined jointly and the skills demanded by the job market can be anticipated. Brazil’s vocational training system (where workers and entrepreneurs are involved in instruction) is an excellent example of this type of strategy. Furthermore, countries should promote training paths that combine classroom and workplace training which continue over the course of a worker’s adult life–much like the successful German dual-model system.
The syllabus for technical and vocational training must be broadened and strengthened. Certain skills need bolstering, especially soft skills—including generic, cross-cutting skills–in the curriculum, since these skills will enable workers to be effectively integrated into employment. Moreover, these skills allow workers to adapt to the changing demands of the job market and to work in a professional environment in which technology is increasingly being used. Also it is important to bolster the professionalisation of management and senior executives in SMEs by focusing more on training for this sector.
It is necessary to establish or strengthen the institutional structure, which provides incentives for SMEs to provide in-house training for their staff in conjunction with external training programmes. Reference frameworks are needed to define and compare qualifications and accreditation systems for recognising practical training. SME networks are needed to spark synergies and exploit economies of scale, develop tax incentives for training and increase the use of ICTs in training programmes.
All of these suggestions are valid in the Indian context as well. Over to policy-makers.