An international perspective on lifelong learning and knowledge management in hi-tech Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
This research examines the links between two key challenges for the European economy: how to support innovative Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and how to profit from the networks, knowledge and skills of an ageing workforce. It asks how hi-tech SMEs capture and value the experience, wisdom and legacy knowledge of their older, longer-serving staff. It compares the way professionals of different ages, generations and roles approach the need for continuous, lifelong learning in rapidly-changing knowledge-intensive jobs. Using data collected for the 'Workforce Ageing in the New Economy' study (WANE), it examines how firms in the UK capitalise on the skills, abilities and professional/social networks of their employees over their life course and compares them with similar enterprises in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. The research seeks to understand the role of continuous, lifelong learning in sustaining and extending careers in hi-tech environments. Finally, the research examines the potential of workplace design to facilitate inter-generational knowledge transfers in the context of an ageing workforce. The WANE data set contains organisational case studies of 55 SMEs in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, US, Canada and Australia. This grant provides support for a grounded theory analysis of the dataset.