Strategien kleiner und mittlerer Betriebe in angespannten Arbeitsmarktlagen. Eine Untersuchung am Beispiel der niedersächsischen Ernährungswirtschaft

This report summarises the results of the sub-project “Local strategies for economic development” of the European Research Project TRUSTEE that ran from 2014 to 2016. Against the background of the expected scarcity of professional workers, the Lower Saxon food industry is used as an example to show how local job markets impact mainly small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in terms of strategies and developments (1); to what extent businesses can achieve independence from the local job market (2); how the businesses, on their part, influence the local job markets (3). The study design includes three core elements: In the summer 2015 a standardized survey was carried out in the food industry in Lower Saxony with 200 responding firms. In autumn 2015 and winter 2015/16 workshops on the topic of professional staff needs were organized, documented and afterwards evaluated in a rural and in a more urban region of Lower Saxony. Finally, interviews were conducted with participants on the regional continuing education landscape in selected lower Saxon regions in the early summer 2016. The regional workshops have shown that the job market actors in the case study regions see their development as limited due to the declining number of available qualified labour. Particularly affected were meat processing firms and large companies which require special qualifications and undertake large growth steps. Efforts to improve the situation are undertaken including the improvement of the attractiveness of jobs and training offers, international recruiting, improvement of internal staff development and increased cooperation between the different employment institutions and the companies. However, the preparedness or the ability to contribute, particularly in small businesses, is often low because of their limited management resources. The example of the participating large businesses has, however, shown that businesses with adequate resources can become partially independent from limited job markets due to their greater attractiveness as employers. One requirement is that they do not rely upon the advantages of their size. On the other hand, due to their specific qualification requirements and greater growth steps, sometimes they are also strongly affected by a scarcity of local professionals. The study of the regional continuing education landscape has shown that the regional further training offerings are not so much adapted to the specific needs of local businesses in either a qualitative or quantitative perspective, but rather much more influenced by the individual targeting of the employment administration, by the presence or absence of chambers of commerce and other providers and by the competition between providers. The desire and ability of smaller businesses from low-technology sectors like the food processing industry to have a targeted impact on the further training offerings is quite low. The main focus of the report is on an extensive presentation of the survey results. These confirmed that the business development is much more strongly affected by firm-level determinants than by the local environment. Free resources and established leadership structures favour the establishment of effective management measures and routines, which, for their part lead to successful communication in the company and an according transfer of knowledge and innovative ability. Only in very small businesses can a lack in formal structure be compensated partially with spontaneous communication. From the different requirements on business management originates a critical growth threshold for small businesses, where new management competence and new staff have to be acquired. If this is successful, the positive development is less likely to be slowed by a shortage in the labour market because growing businesses have fewer recruitment problems than do stagnated or shrinking businesses. Thus structural change due to labour market development tends to be faster and more to the favour of more competitive businesses. Small businesses in rural regions with lower competitive pressure can possibly have more opportunity to overcome the critical growth threshold than do small businesses in urban centres, but only when they succeed in developing their internal labour market. Here, targeted support of continuing education and business consulting provide a toehold for help within the framework of the existing system.

Other Titles:
Local strategies of small and medium size enterprises against scarcity of professional workers. A survey in the food industry in Lower Saxony
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Total Pages:
168 p.
JEL Codes:
J23; L11; L22; L66; M12; M51; O31; R10
ISSN 2196-2324 ISBN 978-3-86576-179-8 DOI:10.3220/REP1513586675000
Series Statement:
Thünen Report 55

 Record created 2018-01-08, last modified 2018-04-02

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