TeleICCE Project – “Promotion of Teleworking and Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Training for Increased Cluster Competitiveness and Employment”, financed with 877.707,50 € by the Cooperation Programme Interreg V-A Greece-Italy (EL-IT) 2014 – 2020, had its kick-off meeting on 19‐20 of July 2018, at the Hellenic Open University Campus in Patras.

Coordinated by the lead beneficiary Hellenic Open University, the consortium consists of the Chamber of Achaia, the Ionian University, the Istituto Formazione Operatori Aziendali Bari (I.F.O.A.), the National Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Enterprises – Provincial Association of Brindisi and an associate partner the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.

The project promotes the adoption of the innovative Business-to-Freelancer model facilitated by teleworking platforms and a skills building framework utilizing MOOC platforms that will enhance the competitiveness of SMEs and the employment of professionals.

This happens by training them to utilize two innovative digital forms of cooperation and skill enhancement: Teleworking and MOOC platforms. Their adoption by both SMEs and freelancers, will deliver benefits for both groups of end-users in multiple ways.

The ongoing and anticipated impact of the digital single market not only provides opportunities, but also presents challenges in terms of the job dynamics and changes in business and working conditions, as the digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy. In addition, many future activities will require entrepreneurial, ICT and other skills, rendering the process of acquiring assisiting digital skills an imperative.

Especially the cross border area is characterized by strong entrepreneurial spirit and diverse economic activity. SMEs and microenterprises in particular, represent a substantial part of all regional economic sectors of both Greece & Italy and although they form more than 60%, they suffer from recession and low growth levels, structural markets’ weaknesses with respect to unemployment and limited access to financing. The observed degree of academic background of the general population is higher compared with many other countries, but the employment rates of professionals and freelancers are continuously decreasing due to the economic recession, lack of modern up-to-date skills, and finally due to structural inflexibility of the employment market.

TeleICCE addresses the need for enhancing flexibility of both microSMEs and professionals; SMEs multiply their range of provided services and freelancers acquire skills in modern professional free tools, that utilize novel forms of occupation and build new business collaborations.

The project is contributing in delivering innovation support services and developing clusters across borders to foster competitiveness but also in creating strengthened linkages among businesses, vocational training providers, universities & policy making actors, since the entire project activities will be jointly developed by two Academic partners (Hellenic Open University & Ionian University), two market representatives (Chamber of Achaia & CNA) and a vocational training provider (IFOA). Additionally, the Ministry of Education, Research & Religious affairs is the relevant policy maker actor that will monitor project development and contribute towards policy integration.