- Ireland delighted that the OECD has recommended that Ireland follow the German ‘Mittelstand’ model for small businesses.
- ‘Future Jobs’ initiative is good but does not go far enough.
- ‘Mittelstand Action Program’ specifically tackles entrepreneurship and other management skills.
- ISME has made a formal proposal to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation for a basic qualification in business management.
Ireland is delighted to note from reports in the Sunday Business Post that the OECD has recommended Ireland follow the German ‘Mittelstand’ model for small businesses.
The ‘Mittelstand’ refers to German small and medium enterprises, which are typically family owned (even when they expand to large size) and are the backbone of the German economy.
While ISME supports the Government’s ‘Future Jobs’ initiative, it is clear that it does not go far enough.
ISME has been prominent in pointing out basic shortfalls in management expertise in Ireland, which are contributors to the productivity gap experienced by many Irish businesses.
The Future Jobs program is oriented towards employee training, while ignoring those areas of real under-performance by small business owners and managers.
The German ‘Mittelstand Action Program’ specifically tackles entrepreneurship skills, knowledge about finance and treasury, and developing SME capacity in the European and global export (and import) context; all areas where Irish businesses are weak.
SMEs also have significant knowledge gaps in employment law and in technical areas of health and safety management.
We are hopeful that external recognition of latent problems in our indigenous industrial set-up will prompt a reappraisal of industrial policy by Government.
While the EU Commission and the OECD maintain ‘bottom-up’ lines of communication with SMEs in Ireland, these do not exist between SMEs and our Government.
It is therefore difficult for the Government to stay attuned to what the requirements of small business are.
ISME has made a formal proposal to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation for a basic qualification in business management that would address some of the identified shortfalls we find amongst the SME base in the country. Luckily, the National Training Fund is running a surplus of more than €450m, only a tiny amount of which would pay for the costs of the incentives necessary to make this program a success.