Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Leveraging training: skills development in SMEs



This project seeks to identify ways to overcome the barriers to workforce development in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The pool of SME workers requiring further education and training is significant. However, SMEs often find it difficult to support formal learning activities due to their low critical mass.

Small enterprises are more inclined to participate in knowledge intensive activities as a way of learning new operational techniques and procedures that will help them to be more innovative and creative.

These competence building activities are largely performed in-house, are interactive and can involve external resources from other companies or organisations.

The dynamics of these alternative ways of learning and upgrading skills are largely unknown. This current project seeks to bring clarification on the way they are performed and their impact on the innovativeness and competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises and its workforce (both for high-skilled and low-skilled employees).


This project aims to :

  • Gather and analyse new data on SMEs labour force participation in formal and informal training in participant countries through dedicated online surveys.
  • Analyse the impact of training and skills development activities in firms through country case studies.
  • Examine local skills and training ecosystems of selected regions. to learn how skills systems can be accelerated to support skills upgrading activities that generate results for all employees, employers, industry and the local area. This analysis is performed by workshops with local stakeholders that include industry, training organisations, universities and colleges and government organisations.
  • Analyse the relevance of green skills for SMEs, thus making an importance contribution to the OECD Green Growth Strategy by exploring the transformation and greening of SMEs towards a low-carbon economy.


Participant countries, events and outputs

Belgium, Poland, New Zealand, Turkey and the United Kingdom are already participating in the project. The European Commission is supporting the project.

Skills and training ecosystems in these countries will be analysed through workshops led by the OECD Secretariat in collaboration with country experts during 2010-2011.

Individual country reports will be prepared during 2010 and a synthesis report will be compiled by mid-2011.


Country reports

New Zealand

Leveraging Training: Skills Development in SMEs. An analysis of Canterbury region, New Zealand (pdf, 704 Kb) 
Published July 2010.



Rozwój umiejetnosci i szkolenia w msp: Analiza subregionu Sosnowieckiego, Polska [Leveraging Training: Skills Development in SMEs. An analysis of Zaglebie sub-region, Poland] (pdf, 2.75 MB) 


[English] Leveraging Training:Skills Development in SMEs. An analysis of Zaglebie sub-Region, Poland. (pdf, 1.59 MB) 

Published December 2010.

 Video of conference and Polish case study available on our YouTube channel



Leveraging Training Skills Development in SMEs: An Analysis of East Flanders, Belgium (pdf, 3.71 MB)
Published December 2011



Leveraging Training Skills Development in SMEs: An Analysis of OSTIM Organised Industrial Zone, Turkey (pdf, 4.06 MB )
Published November 2011


United Kingdom

Leveraging Training Skills Development in SMEs: An Analysis of the West Midlands, England (pdf, 3.78 MB)
Published December 2011.



Leveraging Training and Skills Development in SMEs: An Analysis of the Two Canadian Urban Regions: Montreal and Winnipeg (pdf, 2.44 MB)
Published November 2012.



For more information on the project or to sign up to participate, please contact Dr Cristina Martinez from the OECD Secretariat.