During the last few months an online survey of European SMEs and Students has been developed and distributed in 31 European countries.The results will be used to update existing information about these countries on the Passport to Trade 2.0 website.
The questionnaire targeted to SMEs had 248 respondents: 66.2% were SMEs owners or employees; almost 19% were non commercial educational or training organisations, and marketing or business development agencies. In order to analyse responses on placements, previous experience, such as past offering of a working placement for domestic or international students, was considered. The findings were that universities themselves as well as the internet are considered as the most popular sources of information regarding placements (81%), while student organisations and public agencies have been rated as less significant.
SMEs would be strongly interested in acquiring information on placement options available in each country, associated practicalities (e.g. salary, banking, visa requirements etc) as well as sources of funding for international students who are willing to undertake a placement in their company.
Facebook and Linkedin are seen as the two most popular social networks among SMEs; however many variations among countries were noted. The main purposes of using social media are overwhelmingly to increase exposure of the business (more than 80%), generate leads and develop partnerships etc. More than 80% of the respondents stated that they would like to be informed on: guidelines on how to get the best out of using the main social media networks, legal aspects on the usage in different countries, an on line do’s and don’ts and the cultural differences in the use of social media.
1.347 students responded to the survey: 54% are at the moment studying or working abroad and have studied/worked abroad in the past; 34.3% would like to study/work abroad. The majority of them would appreciate the existence of a single source of information on student placements abroad.
Internet and websites specializing on international studies/placements are the most significant sources of information.
Other useful sources of information are universities and friends, however events organized at ‘home’ university are not considered to be of particular help.
Facebook is the most popular social network followed by YouTube; others such as Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Xing are still limited. For students, acceptable on line behaviours included the use of a real picture and of the real first and last names for users’ avatar. Unacceptable behaviours constituted criticism of others in abusive terms, posting pictures of other people without permission, swearing and using foul language etc. Students considered significant for training regarding social media, the following aspects: the legal aspects for different European countries, the guidelines to main networks’ use, the social media used in different countries and the do’s and don’ts in social media use. In particular, the main cultural differences in the use of social media acrossEuropedepend on:
- the political environment, the lack of freedom of expression and censorship etc.
- the legal environment, such as the existence of regulations for the removal of material with abusive and violent actions, the removal of material which is protected by copyright etc.
- language and the different meanings of specific words in different countries
- the religious beliefs of the majority of people in a country
- the openness of a culture and the degree of morality of a society etc.