Investing in Talent and Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI)

Work-based learning and apprenticeship: can be a win-win situation for learners and SMEs as ROI partnership is showing.

HETEL / Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri (Spain)

Many SMEs realize the need of investing in young talent and have started to recognize the benefits. However, attracting new talent has its challenges and realizing what support is out there to assist this process and make it more appealing for SMEs requires common efforts.

There are various factors and elements of the education system across the EU but a unified approach and frameworks have been developed in order to enhance the role of work-based learning in its different forms and apprenticeships, in particular, to make them an effective tool for SMEs to become more competitive and attract the right set of skills, knowledge and competences for growth and innovation in today’s economy and competitive markets.
​​According to the research and surveys as well as the conducted focus groups of the project “Return on Investment of Work Based learning and apprenticeships (ROI)”, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, SMEs’ decision to engage in the supply of WBL and apprenticeship training is determined by the cost-benefit ratio of such an investment.

The ROI partnership is made by a diverse and complementary mix of organisations – from Slovakia the Technical University of Kosice (TUKE), the Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC) from Bulgaria,3 training organisations active in VET: IDEC – Greece, CECOA – Portugal, Politeknika Txorierri – Spain and also from the UK – Social Value UK – a network focusing on social value and social impact, from Italy a network focusing on the promotion of digital learning and use of ICT – DLEARN and an ICT company focusing in ICT-enabled E&T – Cosmic Innovations – Cyprus.

Costs & Benefits

The following costs and benefits have been identified through the project partners’ research based on focus groups and surveys among SMEs:


  • wages of apprentices
  • training
  • recruitment and administrative
  • quality: correction of mistakes
  • infrastructure
  • other costs: fees, duties and taxes.


  • higher productivity
  • increased firm’s reputation
  • saved hiring costs
  • training subsides
  • society-related benefits
  • enhanced growth and innovation
  • increased competitiveness

The ROI project has been focusing on developing:

  • A model for the calculation of RoI of WBL and apprenticeships by SMEs
  • A digital tool that will demonstrate in a visual way the RoI model to calculate and visualise how investment on WBL and apprenticeships can manifest multiple benefits.
  • A Good Practice Guide to drive SMEs to successfully implement WBL in their organization.

To access the ROI calculation model and digital tool, please, click here:

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