CEPS Project

Study on mapping opportunities and challenges for micro and small enterprises in offering their employees up- or re-skilling opportunities


This project has been commissioned by DG EMPL to map the opportunities and challenges for micro and small enterprises in offering their employees up- or re-skilling opportunities. It is paramount to develop a sound understanding on the subject and provide insights on how these instruments can adequately target this important portion of the EU businesses and their employees.
While acknowledging the overall insufficient provision of lifelong learning opportunities in the EU labour markets, the study is concerned with two principal issues: (i) the insufficient provision of up- and re-skilling opportunities for working adults by micro and small enterprises and (ii) structural imbalances in the existing provision, more specifically the bias towards more educated employees.
The study aims to answer a two-fold research question throughout five tasks. On the one hand, it investigates the reasons why the situation is as it is, thus looking at the challenges to face for up- and re-skilling in micro and small enterprises. To do so, the desk research in Task 1 provides an overview of existing issues, which will be tested and analysed closely through the survey of enterprises in Task 2 and the interviews with employers and employees in Task 3. On the other hand, the study explores the possibilities and opportunities at hand to improve the situation, thus looking at policies and strategies that can benefit up- and re- skilling for these enterprises. The desk research in Task 1 provides a scanning of existing practices, which is deepened and completed in Task 3 and Task 4 with the interviews to employers, employees, stakeholders and public authorities. The desk research has remarked the importance of micro and small enterprises in the EU and the paramount role of adult education and training in the future of work. The desk research has also confirmed its suboptimal provisions precisely in smaller companies, presenting data and making comparisons across the EU. To explain this, four groups of challenges are analysed, reviewing the literature to provide both theoretical background and empirical evidence for each of them. Accordingly, four groups of opportunities, mainly in terms of policy options, are discussed, providing examples from ten shortlisted countries, namely Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Romania, Netherlands and Slovakia. The desk research has highlighted a variety of opportunities and policy options in these countries, developed against an equally heterogeneous background in terms of demand and supply for skills. Reflecting this variety, as well as geographical balance, Germany, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Slovakia are proposed as countries to select for further investigation.
Finally, task 5 analyses the overall results to come to conclusions and recommendation.

This project was awarded under the Framework Contract for the provision of services related to the implementation of Better Regulation Guidelines (VC/2017/0393) with the European Commission, DG EMPL. The full list of CEPS’ Framework Contracts is available here.

Manon Jacquot

Project Officer

+32 (0)2 229 39 16

Leonie Westhoff

Associate Researcher

Sara Baiocco

Research Fellow

+32 (0)2 229 39 35