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The aim of the AGORA Europe II is to create an on-line system especially addressed to the retail sector shop owners and workers for perfect management in retail trade that will help them survive from the financial crisis and maintain their small business alive! In December 2010, the volume of retail trade fell by 0.4% in the EU27 and the youth unemployment rate (under-25s) was 21.0%. Among the countries involved in the project, the lowest rates were observed in Germany (8.6%), Poland (10%), Turkey (10.4%) and Greece (12.9%) and the highest in Spain (42.8%) and Slovakia (37.3%). The financial crisis that we hear every day is a reality leaving millions unemployed and thousands of enterprises closed. Indicatively, in Athens 16.000 enterprises have been closed within 4 months! This crisis has brought a burden of debt that will last for many years and new pressures on our social cohesion. The urban tradesmen are the ones who suffer the most watching their stores closed every day. Therefore, people living on this sector are in a danger both because they cannot compete with big giants. Moreover, they do not have sufficient training opportunities for developing themselves for proper competition. Even if they leave their market, they can hardly find a new job due to lack of their up-to-date competencies.




The concrete aim of this project is “to train retail sector shop owners and workers have perfect management competencies in retail trade”, so that they will increase their competition strengths in the sector, and their integration into labour market will be easier even if they quit from operating their small shops and try to be employed in larger enterprises.


In view of the situation described above, the survival of the Urban Trade Sector depends to a great extent on being able to develop innovative approaches based on strategies encouraging evolution, professionalism and permanent adaptation of the Human Resources that develop their activity in this sector. There is no doubt that punctual performances carried out to encourage the adaptation to changes of the companies belonging to Urban Trade Sector have not been enough to achieve the desired objective. In this sense, encouraging a real professionalism of the sector, by means of new permanent learning systems, integrating the competences that are the result of the 3 learning systems (mainly INFORMAL one), can be the distinguishing element in terms of profitable competitiveness and survival. In this sense, experience shows us that traditional learning methods (classroom-teacher-student) are not efficient if we want to transfer competences acquired by INFORMAL means. For that, the creation of environments and tools enabling their acquisition and transfer is necessary: this is where the spirit of AGORA Europe II project lays.


Target Groups:


Human Resources of the companies in the urban commercial sector, present and potential employees and employers (shop owners) in retail trade aged between 15-30 years old and their need to keep their job in spite of the problems faced, or for those who have lost their job and need new employment opportunities relying on their exisiting experiences and skills.


The AGORA project focuses on the fact that the traditional urban trade and its human resources are one of the activity sectors that are “suffering” the most of social and economic changes related to the so called “Society of Information and Knowledge”. The relation of the Retail Urban Trade and the place it is on (the city) have changed. Recent local and European surveys and researches reveal a group of significant conclusions that show the difficulties of the sector to face the new needs coming from more and more global and professional environments.


The difficulties of the sector are:

• The lack of enterprise culture and Knowledge of how to design Strategic Plans,
• Little use of Training as an Investment for the future and a Tool to increase competitiveness,
• Not Knowledge of the Potentiality of New Technologies of Information and Communication as tools for an advanced trade management,
• Lack of suitability of the Vocational Training systems to the real and concrete needs of urban trade companies and their Human Resources,
• Importance of the competencies acquired by informal way: need to formalize informal competences,
• Low levels of motivation and involvement of the Human Resources and lack of participation in training processes,
• Global approach and not sector approach of the public performances for urban commerce,
• “Reactive answer” (not proactive) to the threatens and weak points of the sector of retail trade,
• Low professional levels in the sector: Little use of the New Ways of Enterprise Management,
• Lose of a high number of clients attracted by the advantages of the great stores (closeness, easy access, concentration and variety of the offer).





This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

EC Lifelong Learning Programme