Enhancing business support to SME's through continuous work-based e-learning for business advisory professionals

L. Everall, R. Sanders, C. Hamill

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to Europe's future prosperity and are essential in attaining the goal of "a sustainable economy based on knowledge and innovation". Alongside improving the institutional framework for business, business advisers are Europe's key players in developing innovation and growth within SMEs, and do so via a range of public and private support organisations - government business support bodies, enterprise agencies, business incubators, Chambers of Commerce, and private sector consultancies. Whilst the quality of business advisory services is excellent in many countries it is clear that good business adviser practice has been developed on an ad hoc basis through individuals own experiences, rather than as a result of a consistent, formalised training programme or through any transnational standards for business adviser training. This paper details, to the best of our knowledge, the first project aimed at developing a competency framework and training for business advisers across European borders through an online training package. The nature of the business support adviser, who is often a self-employed home-office worker, works alone, or is based in an out-of-town location, lends itself to an online training resource and this paper will look at the effectiveness of the training resource in enhancing their business support skills. While the importance of technical skills and knowledge relating to business start up and development are undeniably important, the training detailed herein incorporates a more pedagogical approach to business advisory training, recognising that essentially business advisers are not just valued for their business knowledge or experience, but rather for their teaching skills and their ability to facilitate behavioural change in their clients. Hence, the training resource focuses not only on "what" to advise, but "how" to advise, bringing together knowledge on how clients acquire knowledge and when they need to know it. The project responds to the need to increase the number of business advisers undertaking training by creating an attractive training package. A full assessment of training needs was carried out, identifying core business adviser competencies and an innovative training resource was developed which blends real life learning, interaction and assessment, with online course content. This paper details a pilot study of the training resource, carried out with a more than sixty business adviser practitioners from countries across Europe, including Poland, Hungary, Spain, Belgium, Ireland and UK.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2008
PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Event7th European Conference on e-learning (ECEL) - Agia Napa, Cyprus
Duration: 6 Nov 20087 Nov 2008


Conference7th European Conference on e-learning (ECEL)
CityAgia Napa

Bibliographical note

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  • Business support
  • E-Learning
  • Learning
  • SMEs
  • Training
  • Workplace learning


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