The Learning Activity carried out on how to improve the sustainability performance of companies using the results of the project was a key success for the development of the SustainSMEs project. The role of VET is a catalyst to train SME management in the application of sustainable practices. Therefore, the training of trainers activity represents the epitome of the project. First, we tested the project results with any preferred learning method (in-person, blended, or distance learning). Secondly, it offers VET trainers the opportunity to acquire additional skills to train SME management on how to improve their own skills in monitoring their company’s sustainability results. Without properly trained VET trainers, SME management cannot receive structured and effective training to master the skills and guide their organization towards sustainability.
This training activity made use of the training of trainers course that was developed within the framework of the PR3/A3 activity, with the intention of training more VET trainers. In this way the pre-established objectives of the project can be achieved.
Trainers (course participants) were instructed on how to deliver training using all possible learning methods (face-to-face, blended or distance learning). To do this, the students were asked to bring their laptops to the training site. This way, they could prepare their training sessions without interruptions.
A train-the-trainer activity was organized with the aim of (1) training VET trainers to subsequently train SMEs managers on sustainability monitoring and (2) testing the results of the SustainSMEs project to continue improving them if necessary. Participating trainers were presented with the training and learning materials prepared by the consortium using the supporting application tools (PR2). At the end of the course, participants evaluated all project results to give feedback on possible areas requiring improvement. Each consortium partner nominated two experienced VET trainers to attend the “train the trainer” event.
It was established that the selected trainers had previous experience in training on different management systems and were familiar with the relevant regulations of their country related to the environment (example: waste management). Another requirement was to be fluent in English and have good knowledge of ICT. The train-the-trainer workshop lasted 3 days (June 27-29, 2023). Plus, two days of travel (Round trip). BDF hosted the training activity in Leeuwarden (NL). OECON, DEKAPLUS and BCYBER, respectively coordinators of PR1, PR2 and PR3, were the facilitators of each workshop. During the learning activity, different sustainability practices and their impact on SMEs were presented to present the ICT tool (PR2) to control all sustainability KPIs. In addition, emphasis was placed on training and learning materials (PR3) and how they can be used depending on the learning method used. The workshop involved the participating trainers in different exercises, case studies and role-playing games. The workshop was in line with the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET). Following the event, participants were asked to respond to an extensive questionnaire to receive feedback on the event itself, as well as the quality of the project results.