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Evaluation of the e-Business Centre at the University of Paisley


The e-Business Centre (e-BC) at the University of Paisley opened in 2000 as Scotland’s first dedicated e-BC – providing access to technology, expertise and staff resources to help small and medium sized businesses(SMEs) in the West of Scotland develop their e-business activities. The evaluation examined the performance of the e-BC between January 2000 and December 2001 in relation to two projects subsidised by Scottish Enterprise (SE) Renfrewshire and by European Structural Funding (ESF) and European Regional Development Funding (ERDF): a training programme for unemployed and employed trainees in industry certified ICT/e-business training courses; and a programme providing e-business consultancy and support to SMEs.


The methodology involved: desk research and interviews with staff from SE Renfrewshire and the University involved with the operation of the e-BC, and a survey of companies and individuals that participated in the programmes.


Overall, the e-BC’s training targets were met. The outcomes for the unemployed trainees were highly successful, with 18 out of the 20 trainees finding employment after the course. A weakness was that less than 50% passed Microsoft or Cisco examinations, compared with a target of 75%. This can be explained by the fact that the main priority of the unemployed was to find employment and once they had done so they were less motivated to obtain the qualification. Both the employed and unemployed students appear to have been satisfied with the quality of training provided. The training programmes had less impact and ongoing benefit as far as the placement companies and employers were concerned, but nearly all of the trainees are still using the knowledge and skills gained from their participation in the courses and, consequently, there is on-going benefit to the economy. With regard to the support for SMEs, the e-BC met its quantitative targets, but in qualitative terms it had very limited sustainable impact on the SMEs involved and on the economy of the West of Scotland.


With regard to the delivery of future e-business programmes it is recommended that: the e-BC should focus on providing ICT and e-business training to individuals and in particular in providing courses for the unemployed; training on customer service and the management of the IT function within companies could be offered; support should not be provided for SMEs to develop websites or other e-business solutions in the future; and the provision of customised training/support and practical training to businesses which have developed a site, but want to have sufficient knowledge to update and maintain it themselves, should be considered.

Author JLH Consulting
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Support to existing/growth businesses
  • Labour Market and Skills
    Skills Development