ESFA experts exchanged good practices with the 40Ready project partners from Italy, Finland, Belgium, Spain, Poland and Romania in online meetings.

The project partners shared good examples of the project financing conditions that can be useful for targeted investment in skills development for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The project partners were interested in Lithuania's experience in preparing the financing conditions for the projects of the measures “Competence LT” and “Industry digitalization LT” financed by the funds of the Operational Program 2014-2020. During the meeting, ESFA experts presented the main requirements as well as evaluation criteria of the projects of these measures and the analysis of the financed projects. The Spanish and Polish partners plan to use the insights, provided by the experts, to prepare calls for planned measures in their countries.

The topic of distance learning of SME employees, which is especially relevant in the COVID-19 situation, was also discussed during the meetings. The project partners discussed the distance learning opportunities, their benefits and shared good practices on the requirements for training SME project promoters, which can alleviate administrative burdens, increase the choice of different forms of training, create more flexible learning from home, reconcile family and work responsibilities.

The project partners also shared their experience on staff training through apprenticeships and spoke about the setting of selection criteria for priority projects for small and medium-sized enterprises. Taking into account the ideas expressed during the meetings, Lithuanian stakeholders were suggested changing the priority criteria of projects: to give priority to projects that will be implemented by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, low-skilled workers and projects with apprenticeships.