Origin of the learning modules
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).