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Durham University

Research & business

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A research project of the School of Education.


SMEs are an important economic factor for the EU. According to the European commission of Enterprise and Industry 99% of all European businesses are having 250 or less employees and fall therefore in the category "SME". But, as it has also been pointed out, SMEs in EU have less productivity and grow more slowly than their counterpart within the United States.

Therefore it is important to strengthen SMEs in their performance. One way of doing so is by encouraging employees of all age groups in life long learning.

This is true for the well-educated as for the low skilled worker and independent of age, sex and working sector. Therefore providing a quality vocational education within the working sector is a topic well discussed on the academic level. But in "real life" SMEs are hardly aware of the necessity to provide a such training, never to mention the idea, that learning depends on certain prerequisites, and does not happen just by enforcing employees to do so. As a consequence that also means SMEs are not reflecting on questions such as: organization change, creativity, innovation, team building, etc.


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • Lego (£41239.67 from European Commission)


S-PLAY - 24 months project offers adaptation of Lego Serious Play method to the training needs of SMEs. The method gained worldwide recognition and is considered as a very efficient tool to foster creative thinking through team building metaphors of their organizational identities and experiences using Lego bricks.


The main aim is to adapt Lego Serious Play method and LLED to the requirement of SMEs training. In particular the project has the following objectives:

- To adapt the LSP method and LLED guidelines to the needs of SMEs

- To raise awareness and popularize LSP method among VET organizations and trainers, business support organizations, associations of enterprises, etc.

- To raise awareness of SMEs for the need to increase competencies of owners and staff that could be done by innovative and attractive approaches (LSP)


The project consortium that was established to meet objectives consists of 6 organizations from 5 countries representing R&D, education and IT sector, most of them highly experienced in working on EU education projects. One of them USI has an extensive experience in LSP method. It already developed Lego Learning Experience Design (LLED) white paper that will be a foundation for introductory workpackages. USI will also organize train-the-trainer workshop to speed up the process of adoption of LSP into the project. Through further workpackages that include adaptation of the LSP to SMEs, pilot phase and development of the final training framework of the use of LSP in SMEs training raised goals will be achieved.

The project will impact the following groups of beneficiaries:

1. SMEs (owners, staff)

2. Business support organizations

3. VET training centers and trainers

4. Project partners

5. LSP communities of practice


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