In the first months of 2020, as COVID-19 infections were rising all over the world, entrepreneurs and employers were asked to close their activities and, if possible, to transfer all their work online, forcing them to implement telecommuting solutions that, in many cases, had never been experienced before.
A comprehensive sample of results emerging from EU sources (Data refer to the Eurostat. Individuals’ level of digital skills, 2019 & The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2020) confirm that EU SMEs and their internal workforce lack a strong and reliable digital/ICT culture (specifically those located in the Mediterranean and Balkan area); a skill lag that throughout the post-crisis exacerbated pre-existing gaps in terms of opportunities for long-term financial sustainability.
EU SMEs are the most affected by the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: Europe is “closed for business”, and while large companies have systems in place to implement telecommuting and smart working, SMEs (especially microenterprises) do not have ICT systems in place nor policies for their staff to work remotely.
SWIFT SME tackles the challenge to equip micro and SMEs across Europe with tools and means to embrace telecommuting as a new competitive solution to operate in the new business scenario.
The 2-year project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission and reunites a Consortium of six organisations from five countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Romania, and Spain).
As the first project’s result, the strategic partnership developed, tested, and published online the official Open Educational Resource (OER) Platform. The SWIFT SME’s Platform is in multilanguage version and its consultation is completely free with no log-in credentials required; throughout the following two years, the OER Platform will publish the milestones achieved by the partnership, namely:
- Transnational analysis from secondary and primary sources mapping quantitative and qualitative dynamics related to the phenomenon of smart working and telecommuting among microentrepreneurs and SMEs
- Training tools and operational solutions to facilitate a smooth transition towards new business models embracing the paradigm of remote working
- Uptake guidelines to sustain the replicability of the project so to spread SWIFT SME’s impact beyond its natural life cycle
Extremely relevant is also the COMMUNITY section of the Platform: private and public stakeholders in the domain of entrepreneurship, digital training, business consultancy, etc., will be able to join the community of practice of SWIFT SME while remaining updated on project’s results and achievements.
In the Project, IHF asbl brings its expertise and experience as a key social player in international and European projects. In particular, IHF asbl ensures the “European Dimension” of the Project as it carries out all the technical tasks from a “European Perspective”, i.e. carrying out analysis of relevant EU policies and initiatives; extrapolating EU relevant case studies, lessons learned and best practices.
For further information on SWIFT SME and other IHF asbl initiatives: