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Workplace learning and its organizational benefits for small enterprises: Evidence from Greek industrial firms

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this study is to explore small firm owners' perceptions of the impact of employee training on small firm competitiveness in the context of Greece. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The research adopts a qualitative orientation. Empirical data were collected from 43 owners of small and micro-firms operating in various sectors of the Greek manufacturing industry through personal semi-structured interviews. Findings ‐ The empirical evidence reveals that informal staff training can help Greek small firms face the challenges of the future. More specifically, the interview findings indicated that workplace training can: reduce employee errors in the production process; help small firms to meet skill shortage needs; facilitate the introduction of new technology; and enhance worker employability. Practical implications ‐ The paper argues that a key challenge for policy makers and employers in this area is to facilitate informal learning within small firms in order to improve firm performance. In the same manner, work-integrated learning (WIL) seems to have a vital role to play in the performance of Greek small enterprises since WIL programs have the potential to address skills mismatch issues. Originality/value ‐ The study brings new insights around the benefits of informal staff training and work-integrated learning for small and micro-firm performance in the context of a small European country like Greece, where there has been scant research and very limited understanding.
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Keywords: Employee training; Greece; Individual development; Manufacturing industries; Skills training; Small and micro-firms; Small enterprises; Workplace learning; Workplace training

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 19, 2011

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