The last three decades have witnessed a fundamental shift in the structure of many western economies, which have seen a decline in the number of large enterprises and a marked increase in the number of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (Cooper, 1998). In1999 there were 3.7 million enterprises in the UK, of which 24,000 were medium sized (50–249 employees) and there were only 7,000 large firms (250 or more); SMEs accounted for 38% of national turnover (Hawkins, 2001). There is growing recognition that the future of work for many will lie in SMEs, as small firms play an increasingly important role in economic development and growth, and opportunities for life-long careers in large firms decline (Cooper, 1997). The rate of technological and economic change will also lead to individuals as well as employers having a greater variety of careers; thus, the concept of the portfolio career is likely to become much more common (Henderson & Robertson, 2000). Such trends imply that the world of work, which today's graduates are entering, is very different from that which their counterparts stepped into a decade ago. Today's resource-constrained small firm represents a fast changing, dynamic environment in need of adaptable, flexible and multitasking employees, who are able to contribute and add value to the organisation from a very early stage. The challenge for education is to develop future employees who not only have the right skills but also the ability to learn from experience and adapt to a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.
|Title of host publication||New Technology-Based Firms in the New Millennium|
|Editors||A. Groen, R. Oakey, P. van de Sijde, G. Cook|
|Number of pages||4|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|