Issues, Models and Cases
Edited by Carmelo Mazza, Paolo Quattrone and Angelo Riccaboni
Chapter 13: Education and Training for Innovation in SMEs: A Tale of Exploitation
13. Education and training for innovation in SMEs: a tale of exploitation1 Stuart Macdonald, Pat Anderson and Dimitris Assimakopoulos INTRODUCTION The chapter focuses on the provision of education and training for smalland medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by the Yorkshire and Humberside Universities’ Association (YHUA), a grouping of twelve universities and colleges of higher education in the north of England, funded for this purpose by the European Social Fund under provisions to aid depressed regions with Objective 2 status. The assumption of the YHUA scheme was that higher level education and training for the employees of SMEs would provide these SMEs with the resources they require for innovation. With more innovation, they would become more competitive, creating more jobs and more wealth in the region. The plight of SMEs attracts the interest of governments everywhere, and governments everywhere intervene on market failure grounds. In this case, there was a speciﬁc policy supposition that the unaided market will not propel SMEs to provide higher level education and training for their employees, that SME employees will not provide this education and training for themselves, and that government must consequently intervene. The very nature of the sector – huge, scattered, volatile, diverse – together with the range of problems it faces, make any single, uniform intervention unlikely to be successful. Indeed, so vast is the sector, that gauging any impact of government intervention is always likely to be problematic (see Gibb, 1996). Rather than attempt any sort of evaluation of the YHUA scheme, this chapter seeks...
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