Work Improvements in Small Enterprises (WISE) - Package for trainers

This training package is aimed at upgrading the skills of WISE trainers in Asia who conduct training courses and provide technical assistance for local small enterprises. It helps both entrepreneurs and workers benefit from the productivity gain and safety and health improvements. Its six basic training principles are: build on local practice; focus on achievements; link working conditions with other management goals; use learning-by-doing; encourage exchange of experience; promote workers’ involvement.

What is a Participatory action-oriented training (PAOT)?

PAOT is a practical method of stimulating and supporting workplace initiatives in grassroots workplaces relying on self-help voluntary actions.
It helps people use local wisdom for developing creative and practical ideas for carrying out immediate improvements in occupational safety and health (OSH), working conditions and productivity by using locally available resources.

What is the purpose of PAOT?

The purpose is to provide practical advice to participants to implement simple cost-effective changes that improve working conditions in their enterprise. Such improvements are designed to increase safety and health, productivity and quality. It benefits both the enterprise and its workers in both the short-and long-term.

Why a “participatory approach”?

Participation of both employers and workers is necessary for the continuous improvement of both OSH conditions and productivity.
PAOT includes several techniques encouraging mutual advice and collaboration among participants. Benchmarking, meeting and discussing with others or visiting their working environment provides broader perspectives.

Why “action-oriented training”?

In contrast with the traditional training approach (where the trainer directs all learning activities and the focus is mainly on transferring knowledge and on targeting attitudes and practices), in PAOT participants are the focus of the activity, they search for knowledge, analyze problems, and ultimately solve them.
The PAOT training approach uses the “learning-by-doing” principle: “Take some actions first and assess the results. If they are good, continue to study and understand them, and where possible take other actions to enhance improvements”.

What are the key principles of the PAOT approach?

PAOT methodology is based on the following six principles:
  • Build on local practice;
  • Use learning-by-doing;
  • Encourage exchange of experience;
  • Link working conditions with other management goals;
  • Focus on achievements;
  • Promote workers’ involvement.

Who is the PAOT target?

  • Owners and managers with power of decision in their micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) from different industrial branches or areas which do not have regular access to support services
  • Operators in the informal economy
  • Farmers and operators in rural communities
  • Workers and their representatives

What are the different PAOT programmes?

There are a number of PAOT programmes, for sectors of activity (construction, agriculture, manufacturing) or target groups (managers, workers, informal economy operators) to whom each programme is addressed.
  • Work Improvement in Small Enterprises (WISE and WISE+) addresses OSH and wider working conditions, alongside productivity in MSMEs and informal enterprises. It covers the issues of material storage and handling, workstations and work tools, machine safety, work environment and control of hazardous agents and welfare facilities. A Global Manual for WISE has been recently updated. Other-WISE Action Modules extend the reach of WISE to address issues and suggest solutions that are more adapted to micro-enterprises in developing economies.
  • HealthWISE is a joint ILO/WHO tool for health facilities and health services. The HealthWISE package is organized in eight modules addressing OSH, HR management and environmental health issues and focuses on the three main risk factors for health workers: biological hazards, ergonomics and violence.
  • Work Improvement in Neighborhood Development (WIND) was conceived for assisting small-scale farmers and their families in improving safety and health at work and in their everyday life. WIND checkpoints cover material storage and handling, workstations and work tools, machine safety, work environment and control of hazardous agents, welfare facilities, work organization and community cooperation, and environmental protection. The Global manual for WIND was updated in 2014.
  • Work Improvement in Small Construction Sites (WISCON) offers a systematic approach to simultaneous improvements of working conditions and productivity in small construction sites.
  • Work Improvement for Safe Home (WISH) targets home-based workers who manufacture goods at their residences. The Action Manual provides them with practical, easy-to-implement ideas to improve their safety, health and working conditions, promoting the active participation and cooperation of home workers in the same workplace or in the same community.
  • Work Adjustment for recycling and Managing Waste (WARM) supports improvements in OSH for waste collectors and waste management systems. The training Manual include six technical sessions: community cooperation for safe waste handling; safety of waste collection, transport and discharge; work environment, welfare facilities and work organization; work station design and control of physical agents; working conditions in open air environment, welfare facilities and health promotion; and implementation of improvements.
Instructional material | 01 January 2004
This second edition of the WISE Trainers’ Package is based on the previous experiences of WISE trainers and follows the structure of the first edition. New practical tips to organize and undertake successful WISE training courses and many clear illustrations are presented. It shows how to design and carry out the effective training courses on key technical topics such as materials storage and handling, work-station design, productive machine safety, control of hazardous substances, lighting, work related welfare facilities, premises and work organization. Emphasis has also been placed on the development of training skills for assisting the course participants in implementing and sustaining grass-roots level actions.

The WISE methodology is unique because it relies on the initiative of the local people, entrepreneurs and workers. They are guided to look at good local examples, check available local solutions, plan and implement actions which will be useful for improving working conditions and productivity. This methodology makes clear that participating entrepreneurs are “the actors” and the trainers remain as “the facilitators”.

The first edition of the WISE Trainers’ Package was published in 1997 in the Philippines as a product of the Work Improvements in Small Enterprises (WISE) project. Since 1994, the WISE project has been implemented in the four pilot regions of the Philippines – Davao, Cebu, Southern Luzon and Manila – with the technical and financial assistance from the ILO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The training package provided WISE trainers a complete set of guiding materials and helped them arrange training courses and manage the workplace changes in enterprises. The project produced positive and practical results in the improvement of productivity and working conditions. Afterwards, WISE spread to other Asian countries.