International Handbook of Entrepreneurship and HRM
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International Handbook of Entrepreneurship and HRM

Edited by Rowena Barrett and Susan Mayson

This invaluable reference tool has been designed in response to the growing recognition that too little is known about the intersection between entrepreneurship and human resource management. Paying particular attention to the ‘people’ side of venture emergence and development, it offers unique insights into the role that human resource management (HRM) plays in small and entrepreneurial firms.
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Chapter 21: Encouraging Skills Acquisition in SMEs

David Devins


David Devins Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to explore the nature of skills acquisition in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the context of UK public policy seeking to encourage such activity in these enterprises. HRM comprises a wide range of activities and approaches as demonstrated by a wealth of writers such as Garavan et al. (1995), Stewart and McGoldrick (1996), Harrison (1997), Bratton and Gold (1999). However, the analysis in this chapter will focus on issues associated with skills acquisition both on behalf of the small firm entrepreneur and their employees, providing two examples of public sector intervention in the UK, which has sought to encourage skills acquisition through investment in training and development in smaller organizations. The nature of the challenges facing policy planners as they strive to develop an employer-led training and education infrastructure, a priority of the current UK government, will also be highlighted. Why should we be interested in HRM in small, entrepreneurial organizations? In answer to this question the latest statistics (SBS, 2006) report that out of an estimated 4.3 million businesses in the UK, 99.3 per cent of them employ fewer than 50 people, they account for about 50 per cent of the 22 million people employed in the UK and almost 40 per cent of the total turnover. Furthermore, it is argued that SMEs are not merely scaled down versions of larger organizations (Penrose, 1959) and that the majority of HRM literature derives from larger organizations (Harrison, 1997). There is...

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