ILO, Norway and Switzerland to boost the competitiveness and sustainability of SMEs
The second phase of the 'Sustaining Competitive and Responsible enterprise (SCORE)' programme aims to improve working conditions and productivity in small and medium-sized companies worldwide.
GENEVA – The International Labour Organization (ILO), the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) have signed a project cooperation agreement to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in creating good jobs and economic growth.
Globally, SMEs constitute the vast majority of all commercial enterprises and are responsible for most jobs. SCORE (Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprise) training helps SMEs attain a win-win scenario: improved productivity for enterprises and better working conditions for those who work there.
"For millions of people around the world, SMEs offer the opportunity of a job, a wage, and a future. Programmes such as SCORE, which help SMEs to become competitive and sustainable, play their part in creating decent jobs and economic growth in the global economy,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said at the signing of the agreement.
This agreement launches the second phase of the SCORE programme following the successful completion of its first phase, which started in 2009. The second phase of the programme will run for five years, with a budget amounting to around US$19.5 million.
SCORE training demonstrates best international practice in the manufacturing and service sectors, helping SMEs to adopt responsible workplace practices, provide decent work and become more productive.
In the last three years, businesses and employees in diverse sectors have benefitted from the training – including cut flowers producers in Colombia, automotive suppliers in Indonesia, furniture makers in Viet Nam, eco-lodges in South Africa and manufacturers in India, Ghana and China.
In all of these countries, governments, employers and trade unions have been essential partners for SCORE. They have provided project guidance, helped to design and ensure the quality of the training, nominated trainers and promoted enterprise participation.
As a result of SCORE training, previously sceptical entrepreneurs have come to realise that acting to improve working conditions is good for business. The results they have reported are substantial: reductions in product defects, lower absenteeism, better health and safety protection, increased quality and important progress on workplace cooperation.
Beatrice Maser Mallor, Ambassador and Head of Economic Cooperation and Development at SECO, points out, "Through the SCORE programme, we have been able to see how ILO standards can become a reality at the factory level. By promoting improved social dialogue and through the application of the training they receive on quality and productivity, cleaner production, human resources and health and safety at work, this programme has had a direct and positive impact on working conditions.”
The results demonstrate that improving competitiveness and productivity do not have to involve a reduction in social commitment.
"SCORE has proved that good working practices and respect for fundamental human values go hand in hand with greater efficiency and profits,” the Ambassador adds.
Steffen Kongstad, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, confirms this sentiment: "Better working conditions contribute to workers’ welfare, increased competitiveness and are good for productivity and business. The SCORE programme has delivered significant results for SMEs competing in the global value chain.”
The first phase of the project benefitted more than 50,000 workers and managers at 308 participating SMEs. PHASE 2 of the project will continue on this basis, with a plan to reach out to a further 800 SMEs representing approximately 100,000 employees. This phase will also bring an increased focus on building the capacity of national partners, including national institutions, trade unions, employers’ associations and governments, to deliver and sustain the training programme independently.