The European Community is a diverse ensemble of regions, cultures and languages. This is an advantage as it introduces a variance of views and approaches for common problems and issues – however it is also a barrier for companies trying to internationalize or establish joint ventures in the European market or outside of it. The use of an intermediary language, like English or German is an incomplete solution as good commercial relations always depend on full understanding and confidence between the parts. In particular, this can be a problem for Micro Enterprises (start-ups) and SMEs that do not have dedicated staff for this purpose. As a consequence, these companies still depend largely on their domestic markets despite the opportunities made available by the enlarged single market and by globalization at large. Business to Business (B to B) e-commerce and e-marketing possibilities are not being effectively exploited by these companies.
The GABALL project seeks to address the reinforcement of EU Micro and SME’s
managers’ skills in the process of internationalization to internal and external markets (Brazil)
through electronic business platforms. The project will also target final year Higher Education students
that can potentially become entrepreneurs and are planning to start up their own companies. The project
will aim for the improvement of languages and culture skills relative to the use of e-marketing and
e-commerce tools, the establishment of relations through electronically supported social platforms and
the encouragement of entrepreneurship.
The project methodology is based on a Serious Game approach that provide rule-based, professional, real-life situations and contexts of interaction where the player tries to achieve learning objectives and improve personal skills and social competencies.
In a study sponsored by the EU Commission (ELAN – Effects on the European Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise: final report. 2006), it was argued that there is a close link between the domain of languages and success and profitability in the business. Therefore there is a political concern and an obvious urgency in encouraging European companies to develop strategies for internationalization and to promote the acquisition of technical communication skills and cultural competences by their human capital. SMEs which are clearly and strategically investing in staff internationalization’ skills are achieving 44% more export sales than those that are not.
The domain of communication skills is not only useful to drive sales and marketing but it is also required to integrate multilingual and multicultural vision and skills, enabling companies to building strategic and lasting business relations. It makes sense to support the skills’ development of the human resources who work in European SMEs that interact with foreign markets. For that purpose, it is particularly relevant to select innovative instruments for self-learning, in personal and real development environments (serious game), allowing flexible and interactive learning, when there is time, and over real and challenging situations that they face or will face in the process.
To do this, it is crucial to encourage and support the development of innovative ICT, based content, services, pedagogies and practice for lifelong learning and to reinforce the quality and attractiveness of VET systems and practices in order to contribute to the continual improvement of the quality of service provided by the VET market. The use of video games for learning is effective due to the following characteristics: they are motivational, they are cooperative and they meet educational objectives, they allow the resolution of problematic situations, they allow the application of concepts in practical situations, they are interdisciplinary, they favor expression and cultural awareness, respect for others, teamwork and cooperative learning.
Spreading out information on the project and its results, in order to guarantee its visibility and future sustainability.