15 Oct 2017 – 14 Dec 2019

The EU skills intelligence centre CEDEFOP concluded that together with the commonly addressed “actual skill mismatches”, there are other “apparent skill gaps” linked to employers’ low commitment to talent management, low quality jobs, inadequate investment in training, or other inefficient Human Resource Management (HRM) practices. In fact, among the 39% EU firms affected by skill mismatches, the apparent skills gap was found true for 80%, face to a 20% affected by real skill gaps among SMEs further away from the technology frontier needing qualified manual workers, being the agri-food (A-F) sector one of the most affected.

The food and drink industry accounts for more than 285,000 SMEs (99.1% of A-F sector companies) that generate almost 50% of the food and drink industry turnover and value added and provide 2/3 of the employment of the sector. Addressing this significant imbalance, FRESH project will devote most efforts on SMEs stakeholders.

CEDEFOP proved a high correlation between commitment with talent management and significantly fewer skill bottlenecks, claiming that “a crucial ingredient in maximising the quality of an employment match is firms’ HR management” (2015). Building capacity on strategic HRM in firms can embed competitive advantage through attraction, development and retention of talent in firms. However, according to CEDEFOP, few firms in the A-F sector use strategic HRM as a source of competitive advantage. HR is still considered by many SMEs as a peripheral function, weakly related to business success.

In the upcoming global A-F market, firms with proficient HRM capacities will be better positioned to manage food-specific challenges and exploit their HR competitive advantage. Small firms’ HR managers therefore need to acquire and apply the knowledge and tools fitting the industry environment. HR development will constitute a competitive advantage, committing employers and managers to maintain an innovative and updated workplace.

FRESH is devoted to the enhancement of agri-food HR management specific skills, encouraging the participation of managers and VET providers in a responsive training that fosters the exchanges of information and best practices envisaged by the ET2020. The cooperation of European training institutions, HR experts and enterprises will generate a transnational network of specialists committed to the creation of a learning environment in the firm, enriching each other from the diversity of approaches to HRM and practices across the EU.

The use of ECVET, EQAVET and EQF standards for non-formal lifelong learning proposed by FRESH will enhance HR managers’ employability and mobility throughout the EU, by improving the transferrecognition and accumulation of learning outcomes.

Target groups are:
HR managers from European agri-food small companies (1-25 workers)  with no or little training and education on HRM,
European agri-food businesses associations,
European public and private CVET centres working with the A-F sector.