While the worker is abroad, its salary and travel expenses are covered by the European Union programme MobiliseSME, funded by the EU-programme Employment and Social Innovation – PROGRESS.
The European Commission is planning to reinforce the Erasmus Programme for small and medium enterprises’ employees in 2019. This is a mobility programme targetting these enterprises, and as for now, the conditions seem to be favourable for this programme to become as big as the Erasmus student exchange programme.
This pilot mobility programme — MobiliseSME — is planning to send qualified workers, managers and entrepreneurs from one SME to another SME, in the same sector, but in a different EU Member State. The exchange period goes from 15 days to two months, and during that time, the EU financing scheme guarantees the employee will receive the same wage and it will as well cover travel and accommodation costs.
Besides the well known Erasmus programme for students, the EU has focused on building up other mobility programmes such as the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, which, according to its official website, is “a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs who are running small businesses in other Participating Countries”.
The SME’s exchange programme “is firmly rooted in the belief that such a European mobility scheme for MSME-employees will raise the competitiveness of participating companies, by improving cooperation and opening new business opportunities with foreign partners in the fields of sub-contracting, import/export, distribution, market awareness and joint ventures”, as can be read in MobilitySME’s official website.
MobiliseSME’s goal is to reinforce the programme next year, aiming at reaching 250 participants in 2019. This can become a real Erasmus programme on the long-term, identical to all those we know already quite well.
Between 2016-2017, the project registered an incredible success amongst European small and medium enterprises. In the pilot phase of the programme, 59 companies, representing 23 sectors and 16 MEmber states of the EU had already participated.
The European Commission is planning to increase the programme’s scope step-by-step, but Brussels is quite sure this will have a successful turnout.
“We are still in the testing phase for the programme, so for now we are focused on a step-by-step approach, so that we can test the markets needs and the methodologies we should apply. For now, I would not say it is already an ‘Erasmus’ programme, but it is definitely a successfull initiative which will bring very positive results, in a phased way”, Christian Wigand, the spokesperson for the Commission’s Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion DG.
Acquiring a new skillset and stimulating the economy
Similarly to what the student exchange programme brings to the students’ lives, MobiliseSME is aiming at increasing the employees’ knowledge, as the end goal of the SME exchange is to promote different experiences, getting new perspectives on products, services and organization skills, as well as it will allow participants to practice working with different languages.
MobiliseSME should also in the end stimulate the economy and the exports, as these companies start networking and developing strong partnerships as a result of the mobility.
“MobiliseSME’s end goal is not to increase exports, but it might just do so. Thanks to the exchange between these two SME’s, they might end up realizing that they would be good business partners. We are opening up space for more cooperation, and each SME can take the advantages it wants”, Stefan Moritz, from the European Confederation of SME’s, said in Brussels.
The Confederation is one of the biggest advocates of the creation of an Erasmus programme for SME’s, as these constitute the backbone of the European economy, and of its internal market: around 23 million small and medium enterprises employ around 90 million people in the EU.