Methodology/Approach: A questionnaire which investigated what quality practitioners and managers in Small to Medium Size firms perceive to be an âexpertâ in quality was developed. A semi structured interview based on this questionnaire was the method of deployment in twenty Small to medium size organisations from Spain; Poland; Greece; Sweden and Ireland. The questionnaires were translated into the national language for each participating country and the results were then reverse translated back into English.
Findings: Most surprisingly perhaps the expert characteristics that defined an expert quality professional were significantly biased towards soft or networking building skills as opposed to skills with an analytical base. This will have a significant impact both on how quality professionals work and in how training is delivered.
Research limitation/Implication: The survey results indicate that a âPareto flipâ in the provision and focus of education is required. Given how the manufacturing environment is expected to change; provision of tools and techniques that will facilitate employees learning the skills required to deploy quality in a virtual and networked learning and manufacturing environment is critical.
Originality: This paper researched what the possible futures in both manufacturing and e-learning are to understand what environment the quality professional will be operating in and possible modes of deploying these requisite skills.
Keywords: E-learning; Novice to Expert; Quality Management; Barriers to uptake; Learning companions