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Sep 2013

Origin of the learning modules

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Within the project “Doing Business International for SMEs” (2008-2010), co-financed by European Union in the Lifelong Learning Program, Hanse Parlament together with 7 partners from 6 Baltic Sea Region (BSR) countries developed the further training course “Doing Business International” for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), tested it in Germany and Poland, and transferred to all BSR countries. In Germany the course can be concluded with a recognised continuing training examination as Foreign Trade Manager (Chamber of Crafts and Trades). In other countries, where an official examination is not possible, an internal final examination on the basis of transparent examination regulations is recommended.

In order to take advantage of the foreign trade opportunities available and to meet the challenges involved in the most effective possible way, SMEs urgently require qualified management staff and skilled workers who are able to offer knowledge and experience of international business. The course is primarily aimed at SME owners, management staff and skilled workers. Many SME owners have multiple roles as owners, managing directors and workers. It is often the case that no operative and strategic separation of these functions exists. Business owners are under considerable pressure from day-to-day business and have little time to analyse new growth opportunities abroad. Against this background, three key areas for the training course were identified:

  • Foreign language competence (Business English)
  • Competences in international business/foreign trade
  • Socio-cultural competences (knowledge of intercultural management)

In addition, participants complete a practical placement of at least 3 weeks’ duration at a foreign company. This enables them to establish direct personal contacts, which are a crucial prerequisite for commencing foreign trade activity and the aim of which is to facilitate any plans to operate abroad. Participants also draw up at least one comprehensive and specific concept for their international activity.

The three key areas were divided in into 6 modules:

  • Module 1 “Business English”
  • Module 2 “International business”
  • Module 3 “Baltic business”
  • Module 4 “Intercultural management”
  • Module 5 “Case study”
  • Module 6 “Practical placement”

The contents of modules 1 and 2 and 4 – 6 relate to foreign trade topics and problem tasks which generally affect all countries and regions. In module 3, the Baltic Sea Region forms the geographical focus. Many studies and analyses show that there is considerable interest within the craft trades and SME sector in opening up new markets within the Baltic Region as well as in expanding existing markets. The course was designed in a way to be easily transferred to other regions and countries in Europe as well as worldwide. Module 3 “Baltic business”, which deals specifically with the Baltic Sea Region, would then need to be replaced by an appropriate module relating to a different region or country (e.g. Mediterranean, China).

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Sep 2013

About GROW international

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GROW International aims to adapt the methodology of “Doing business international”, an internationalisation training course developed by the previous LdV project DE/08/LLP-LdV/TOI/147150 lead by Hanse Parlament. Whilst the previous project focused on traditional SMEs and craft firms, GROW International aims to support innovative SMEs and new technology-based firms (NTBFs).

SMEs are the core of the European economy: more than 99% of all European businesses are SMEs; they provide two thirds of all private sector jobs; contribute to more than half of the total value-added created by businesses in the EU; and play a key role in innovation and R&D.

The European economy is living an economic challenge that means firms need to be able to compete at a European and global level. In fact, there is a direct link between internationalisation and increased SME performance: the growth, employment creation and innovation, competitiveness, and long-term sustainability of companies are all reinforced by effective and successful internationalisation strategies.

However, most SMEs don’t have the skills to address their internationalisation needs and they still depend largely on their domestic markets. GROW International aims to provide a training course, with both classroom and e-learning sessions, that supports the development of new skills in innovative SMEs and NTBFs, for managers and employees as well as for the unemployed, in order to promote, launch and support internationalisation processes among these firms.

The following products/resources will result from the project activities:

  • GROW International Learning Guide – Guidebook with the learning modules developed under the project, exercises, case studies and examples
  • Package of Learning Objects: set of resources for the support to the training course, such as PPT presentations, audio and/or video files, graphics and others
  • Learning platform: online learning platform, with contents related with the internationalization process, where registered participants can find and share information and knowledge
  • Best Practices Guide: Collection of case studies, resulting from the piloting phase implemented by each partner, with description of blended training methodology applied, resources involved, results achieved and “do’s” and “don’ts” of each pilot

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