Every crisis contains the seeds of opportunity and growth, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. International standards provide powerful tools for bolstering economic resilience, while enabling enterprises to improve their productive capacity. Given their extensive coverage of production processes, international standards enable enterprises to properly select and acquire modern production methods, skill sets and supply-chain expertise, which are vital for production repurposing. To support a greater contribution of international standards to building back better, UNECE is launching an online training course to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) recover better.
Ms. Marion Stoldt, Chair of UNECE’s Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policy, Head of International Cooperation at the National Metrology Institute of Germany emphasized: “the course highlights the role of standards in achieving compliance with domestic and destination countries’ regulatory requirements and enables MSMEs to make informed decisions when choosing suppliers.”
Ms. Olga Algayerova, UNECE Executive Secretary, said: “As COVID-19 continues to spread, its disruptive impact is becoming more pronounced, posing unprecedented challenges for enterprises across the globe. The speed with which the pandemic-induced economic crisis unfolded took MSMEs by surprise, and many did not have crisis response plans. Others realized that their plans were simply too rigid. Standards can play a decisive role in the recovery. This self-paced training course helps MSMEs select and implement international standards that equip them with the required skill sets and production capacities to withstand a crisis and engage with transnational corporations.”
The course targets MSMEs, since they are more susceptible to shocks and disruptions compared to large enterprises. They are also an integral element in the achievement of sustained growth with equity; a strategic role that is linked to their flexibility and, in some countries, sheer number. This is the case, among others, of Georgia, Serbia and the Republic of Moldova, where MSMEs constitute over 90 percent of the total number of registered enterprises. The self-paced online training course shows how international standards enable MSMEs to improve business resilience, both in terms of preparedness and recovery capabilities, from global disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a user-friendly guide to quality infrastructure, highlights international standards of direct relevance for withstanding disasters, and provides tips on standards selection and implementation issues.
The course puts emphasis on deconstructing these aspects and enabling MSMEs to select and implement international standards, which are relevant to their specialisation and address immediate and long-term business development plans. The standards addressed in this course are meant to illustrate the different types of standards that MSMEs could implement within the context of a coherent approach.
The self-paced course is available, free of charge at: https://e-learning.unece.org
It covers “requirement standards” such as:
- ISO 9001 on Quality
- ISO 4001 on Environmental
- ISO 22301 on Resilience and Business Continuity
- ISO 50001 on Energy
- BS 8001 on Circular Economy
As well as the following “guidance standards”:
- ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility
- ISO 31000 on Risk
- ISO 56002 on Innovation
- BS Safe return to work guideline