The European Union must guard against being over-ambitious in its plans to help reform vocational education and training in the former Eastern bloc.
The warning came from Anne Jones, professor of continuing education at Brunel University, an adviser to the European Training Foundation which supports the EU's Phare and Tacis economic and social reform programmes in central and eastern Europe and central Asia.
Professor Jones, former undersecretary in the Department of Employment, said the partner states had a genuine desire to learn, and an enormous amount of energy and goodwill. But despite a high level of technical skill, a lack of general management and interpersonal skills meant that initially some fairly simple schemes were needed.
"What people don't always know is how to write a CV, prepare an agenda and chair a meeting," she explained.
Partnership was also a new concept, said Professor Jones, and the ETF advisory forum wants more to be done to involve trade unions and employer organisations in educational and training reforms.
"There's a great need for training the trainers to develop the resourcefulness and enterprise of people to manage themselves. It's something we've taken quite a long time to work on in this country, but they've suddenly got to do it," Professor Jones said.
The advisory forum has stressed that advice from the West must be focussed more specifically on the needs of individual countries. Under the previous centralised regime, countries specialised in particular areas, developing different strengths.
Professor Jones warned that it was also important to be sensitive to each new state's cultural identity, and to realise that western solutions were not necessarily appropriate.
In the United Kingdom, employers were seen as a major source of funding for training, but in emerging economies, this type of support was difficult to find, and lack of core funding made it difficult to establish small and medium-sized enterprises in the first place.