Human Resources Training in the Greek Public Administration: Case Study Region of Crete


The main objective of this research is to showcase and highlight the necessity of continuous education and training of human resources in the public sector, which will contribute to better service towards the citizens and will create a sense of satisfaction among the employees themselves since they will be able to respond at the highest level possible to the requirements of the bodies they serve. For this reason, a quantitative survey was carried out (data collection in the form of a questionnaire), following the implementation of a sufficient number of educational programs in the Region of Crete. The main results obtained are the following: 1) Need for continuous training of human resources (in various subjects). 2) Satisfaction resulting from the extra knowledge they gain during the implementation of the targeted educational programs. 3) Possibility of detecting the real educational needs of the employees, since through a relevant question, the need of conducting thematic seminars was captured, with a view to acquiring targeted knowledge that will facilitate their work and of course to achieve their goal, which is none other than providing better services to the citizens. So, this paper summarizes responses of public sector employees to training programs in Crete. The employees mostly responded (70%) and mostly liked the training programs.

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Stavrakaki, G. , Moustakis, V. , Kyriakogkonas, P. and Giannopoulos, P. (2023) Human Resources Training in the Greek Public Administration: Case Study Region of Crete. Theoretical Economics Letters, 13, 265-283. doi: 10.4236/tel.2023.132017.

1. Introduction: Bibliographic Review

In a modern and highly competitive work environment, organizations are increasingly realizing the value of their intellectual asset, which is their employees. Human resources are now one of the most important elements in any organization, since they act as a driving force to provide a sustainable source of energy and service delivery (Mullins, 2015) .

The knowledge-based economy requires workers to have higher education and more specialized skills. Businesses are now expected to act in a globalized environment, where competitiveness and the need to increase productivity as well as the quality of services provided have increased dramatically. Technological developments and the human factor are the main tools in the hands of businesses so that they can be more flexible and adaptable to the new reality. But beyond adaptation, businesses seek to develop and increase their competitiveness by utilizing their productive resources (Chytiris, 2001) . Thus, in order to cope with the particularly frequent changes, they place importance on the education and training of their human resources, since they are the key factors both for the development of businesses and organizations and for increasing competitiveness against similar businesses and organizations.

Training can be defined as the sequence of experiences or opportunities intended to modify human behavior to achieve some goal. It is the activity that tries to improve the abilities of the individual so that they respond effectively to the demands of each job (Hamblin, 1974) .

In addition, it is considered the process that is accompanied by a series of activities which aim to make the individual able to harmonize with their environment and develop their knowledge, skills and values, so that they realize that these are not only connected to a limited activity space but also that they allow them to analyse, interpret and deal with a wide range of issues (Buckley & Caple, 1992: p. 14) .

In recent years, the lifelong training of civil servants is gaining more and more ground, since it plays an important role both in their evaluation and in the level of providing high-quality services to citizens, which helps to improve the image of the organization. The education and training of the human resources of the public sector is a priority as its ultimate goal is to improve the operation of the bodies as well as to closely respond to the ever-increasing demands and changes that arise in the operation of the Public Administration. Due to the rapid but also radical changes in the internal and external working environment of the public administration, further education is an essential factor for satisfactory service to the public and generally for effective and successful governance.

Employability, that is to say, the ability to obtain and maintain a satisfactory job, is an important chapter for the human resources of organizations. It is also considered a result of acquiring and possessing basic skills, and good work experience a product of effective career and interview techniques planning and a combination of cognitive and non-cognitive achievements and performances (Knight & Yorke, 2005) .

Furthermore, according to (Phillips, 2009) , trained and competent human resources can handle the resulting changes more effectively. At the same time, it mentions that most companies consider it very important to help their employees, not only acquire new and specialized knowledge, but also to develop communication, teamwork and flexibility skills.

Prior (1998) mentions the benefits of training in the development of human resources, arguing for the necessity of training in businesses, stating the following:

· Change;

· Increased productivity;

· Specialization;

· Error reduction and security.

Peel (1994) points out that technological developments, new consumer needs, alterations in legislation and regulations, changes in the environment, new materials and systems that are developed, as well as new services that emerge to meet new needs, contribute to the reshaping of professions and demands. So, it is understood that the need for continuous redefining and re-examination of the employees’ abilities is emerging, so that they can respond to the duties of the position they serve, but on a new basis with new data.

Organizational training can be implemented in two forms (Jamison & Loo, 2017) . The first form refers to the training that takes place in the workplace and most of the time with the presence of an instructor, who knows well the roles within a company with the use of training manuals and technical material. The second form concerns the training that is carried out outside the daily tasks of the employees (training outside the workplace) and concerns the training that is carried out in the framework of the organization’s planning by the executives. Most of the time these are training seminars inside or outside the organization’s premises.

(Elias & Merriam, 1995) , through related research, they conducted, point out that organizational training is a systematic form of training aimed at strengthening the professional skills of employees, which distinguishes organizational training as a special and more importantly unique form of adult education.

Training focuses on the development of specific competences and skills, which an employee needs in order to perform adequately in a specific occupation or task, while education concerns the development of knowledge and skills, which are not necessarily related to a specific job (Abiodun, 1999) .

Cognitive skills mainly concern the individual’s ability to have critically thinking and to be able to solve problems in a scientific and systematic way (Hanushek & Woessmann, 2008) , whereas according to (Pink, 2005; Sternberg, 1996) , they concern the ability of creative but also unorthodox thinking.

According to the theory of human resources management, the most suitable combination for maximizing the performance of a productive organization is the matching of individual pursuits with organizational goals (Gilley, Eggland, & Gilley, 2002, Bamberger & Meshoulam, 2000) .

Denhardt & Denhardt (2002) state that: “since civil servants are required to treat citizens with respect, they must also command respect from their superiors.”

According to the four-stage learning cycle (Kolb Cycle), during the educational process a learner moves through a helix of direct experiences that lead to observation and reflection on the experience. These reflections are absorbed and linked to prior knowledge that is then translated into abstract concepts or theories, creating new ways and attitudes that are adapted to the experience and can be tested or further explored.

However, it is worth noting here that for the most effective application of the abovementioned skills in the workplace, it is necessary to have a supportive work environment, which will aim to motivate the employees to adopt the results of their training in their daily working life.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (Figure 1), adult education refers to any learning activity or program intentionally designed by an educational institution to satisfy any training need or interest that may occur at any stage of a person’s life, who has exceeded the age of compulsory education and whose main activity is no longer education. Its “sphere”, therefore, covers non-vocational, vocational, general, formal and non-formal studies, as well as education that has a collective social purpose (Rogers, 1999) .

Alexiadis & Peristeras (2000) , point out that one of the main problems related to the low level of development of human resources in public administration is their insufficient training and guidance in modern technical methods, recent developments, behaviors and attitudes. Velli (1996) comes to the same conclusions, where she states that the problems of the Greek Public Administration are

Figure 1. Diagram of Kolb’s cycle of experiential learning.

largely due to the inadequate training and specialization of its executives. In addition, she focuses on the fact that the systematic and continuous training of human resources is one of the main pillars of the modernization of the Public Administration.

Baroukh & Kleiner (2002) , mention in their article, that the main resource of an organization is its human resources, while at the same time they focus on the fact that a training program for newly appointed people in the public sector must contribute to the following:

· Developing critical thinking so that they can be taught over time;

· Providing motivation to learn;

· Advancing the delivery of better services;

· Strengthening values for social and cultural responsibilities;

· Creating a sense of commitment to solving society’s problems;

· Understanding problems in multiple ways to find alternative solutions;

· Promoting the realization that they have the power to make a difference.

Essentially, however, the new framework within which we should approach the educational process of training the human resources of the Public Administration, now requires the adoption of new concepts and tactics. It should also be taken into account that the trainee is a carrier of experiences, so the knowledge they possess arises through the experiences they have gained from the positions they have served. The instructor, for their part, is expected to facilitate the subject’s learning process. In this way, they function as a facilitator of this process and not as a tutor. They possibly convey a systematized code of general rules, not to impose it and thereby substitute for the subjective experience of the trainee, but to contribute precisely to the processing of experiences (Brooks-Harris, 1999) .

2. The Training of Civil Servants

The in-service training of the human resources of the Greek public administration is, according to the new Civil Service Code, Law 3528/2007, an inalienable right of the employees but also a primary obligation of the state itself, which must encourage as well as facilitate their participation in education and training programs by granting them the necessary paid leave. In particular, in article 47 par. 1 of Law 3528/2007 of the Civil Service Code, it is stated that “In-service training is a right of the employee” while in par. 3 it is pointed out that “The service is required to provide training for its civil servants all through their careers, irrespective of the category, branch, specialization and rank thereof. Personneltraining may be general or offer specialization in the subject-matter of the civilservants’ duties. The participation of civil servants in personnel training programs may also be compulsory.”

In 1986, the National Center for Public Administration, established by Law 1388/1983, became operational in Greece. Its main units were the National School for Public Administration and the Training Institute. For a short period of time the Institute of Introductory Administrative Education operated, while with Law 3200/2003 the National School of Local Government was added, which led to the renaming of the Center to National Center for Public Administration and Local Government (EKDDA).

Later legislations such as Law 1586/1986, Law 1943/1991 and the most recent 2527/1997 and 3200/2003, formed the institutional framework that governs the operation of the center as well as the training actions in the Greek administration. The main coordinating role in matters of education is assigned to the Directorate of Education of the General Secretariat of Public Administration of the Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Local Government. Essentially, the Directorate’s involvement in the planning of the training policy was limited. For quite a long time, a relevant circular was sent on an annual basis in order for the organizations to declare information and training programs for their human resources. The elements they asked for were:

· Thematic Unit (module);

· Seminar title;

· Venue of the seminar;

· Number of trainees who wish to attend;

· Implementation body;

· Funding body;

· Program cost.

Ultimately, these data cannot help in the detection of training needs. Thus, the collected data were simply archived while at the same time copies were shared with the EKDDA, but without any substantial and desired result.

With Law 3200/2003, an Education Coordinating Committee was established, which with Law 3260/2004 became specialized and coordinates the training activities of the training bodies of the Public Administration and Local Government. The aim of the committee is to record the training needs of the bodies in order to avoid any overlaps. Among others, the heads of the Training Units of the Ministries and Legal Entities of Public Law (NPDD), as well as two representatives of the Supreme Administration of Unions of Public Servants (ADEDY), participate in the committee. It is, therefore, understood that the committee is very significant since it has a pivotal role in the coordination and monitoring of the educational activity throughout the Public Administration.

The organization that is responsible in our country for the training of employees and also for the search for those training programs deemed necessary for the restructuring of the Public Sector, is the Training Institute (INEP). INEP provides certified continuing training programs, giving the motivation and the trigger to all civil servants to be able to participate without exceptions, choosing the appropriate training program based on the subject of work, as well as their personal wishes and needs. Through the implementation of appropriate educational methods, employees can respond in the most efficient way to the demands of the modern working environment.

Essentially, what it seeks to achieve is the connection of the implementation of educational programs with the effort to detect in-service training needs, always in collaboration with the Directors and Heads of the Public Bodies who are also the final recipients of the implementation and adoption of the educational interventions. Of course, it is necessary for all of us to realize that vocational training does not only concern the people who participate in it, but the whole of the individuals of each organization. Thus, it is considered important for the trainees to inform their colleagues about the results of the training they have carried out and whether the application of these results could contribute to the improvement of their provided work. This way, it is understood that the ultimate purpose of vocational training is not only to enrich the knowledge of human resources but also to improve their performance and, by extension, to upgrade the services provided to citizens. Therefore, emphasis will be placed on the acquisition of new upgraded approaches, knowledge and skills. At the same time, the training programs should be linked to the employees’ career development. Service employees, on an individual level, seek to advance as high as possible in the hierarchy as well as to occupy those positions that will satisfy their personal interests and ambitions.

The actions of EKDDA are divided into three main categories, i.e. pre-entry training, induction training (concerns the preparation of new employees, soon after their appointment, so that they can better respond to their duties) and continuous training (constitutes the par excellence field of education addressed to the mass of serving public servants), which correspond to the two main organizational units, the National School for Public Administration (ESDD) and the Training Institute (INEP). There is also a third unit, that of the National School of Local Government (ESTA), which remains inactive for the time being.

Programs Offered

INEP has developed five main areas of educational programs, which are the following:

· Public Management;

· Information technology;

· International affairs;

· Introductory Education;

· Foreign languages.

Each field offers a range of educational and training program titles while the average duration of training hours is around 30 hours. The aim of these programs is to inform/raise awareness, develop introductory knowledge, enhance human resources, upgrade material and intangible infrastructures, introduce new methods in Administration, as well as serve the citizen (each of the aforementioned axes offers additional targeted training program titles respectively).

3. Detection of Educational Needs

As the first Greek public administration body, INEP follows specific procedures for detecting educational needs as follows:

· It records the new trends in the vocational training of civil servants in the following ways:

1) By monitoring the experiences and good practices of similar bodies abroad;

2) By studying practices that apply to related private sector entities;

3) By staying up to date with the latest bibliography;

4) By conversing with members of the teaching staff who collaborate with each scientific field.

· For the detailed coverage of all modules, it implements the composition of the teaching staff from external partners with hourly employment and not from permanent staff. In this manner, not only the specialized experience is ensured, but also the continuous renewal of the register of teaching staff, which helps to adapt the programs to the constantly evolving conditions. Therefore, it utilizes a register of approximately 3500 collaborators consisting of academics, experts, senior officials of the public administration, as well as senior executives of the private sector.

· Then the collected information per module is combined with the priorities of the organizations, the policies of the bodies as well as the operational programs.

· After determining the organization needs, INEP’s scientific personnel draws up a list of the offered titles, as well as the thematic framework of each title.

· This material is sent to the Education Directorates of the organizations (if they have a corresponding Directorate) or otherwise to the Personnel Directorates, so that they express their interest in participating in these programs.

· The training units communicate the list of offered programs to the organizational units so that those who wish to attend the said training programs, register their participation. Oftentimes, due to the subject of the training program, the decision is not subjective but is taken universally at a higher hierarchical level, for the whole of a specific Directorate.

4. Conduct of Quantitative Research

In the Region of Crete1, under the auspices of the General Directorate of Internal Functions, operates the Directorate of Organization, Quality and Efficiency, which is responsible for the entire Region of Crete. The responsibilities of the Directorate amount essentially to the planning and coordination of actions for all regional organizations, with the aim of proposing organizational measures that are necessary to improve the performance of the Region’s organizations and of course to better serve the citizens. In addition, it is responsible for the management of the quality of the services provided by the Region, as well as for the issues of simplifying the procedures.

The Departments belonging to the Directorate of Organization, Quality and Efficiency are the following:

- Department of Organization and Coordination;

- Planning Department;

- Simplification of Processes and Quality Systems Department;

- Department of Human Resources Development and Education;

- Citizen Service Department.

It is easy to see that the Directorate of Organization, Quality and Efficiency emphasizes human resources as well as their education and training. The specific department is responsible for determining the educational needs of the Region, for organizing and executing the employee training programs, of special and general interest, in collaboration with the public and local competent self-government bodies, but also with private bodies for specialized educational needs, as well as for the evaluation of the programs and their effectiveness.

As a result of research carried out for the evaluation of the human resources and from the empirical results obtained through both qualitative and quantitative research, the need for education and training of the organization’s human resources emerged strongly. A need that is considered increasingly important, both due to the rapid development rates of technology and due to the constant changes that arise (e.g. change in legislation, adoption of new standards, etc.).

5. Research Methodology

In the context of this publication, we have carried out quantitative research (since through the precursor research, that was mentioned for the evaluation of the human resources of the institution, the necessary data were obtained). We created a questionnaire (Appendix 1), which concerned all the trainees of the training programs (see Table 1) and which was given to the total of 281 participants, of which 198 responded. The questionnaire of the quantitative research is a self-design questionnaire, which resulted from the basic questionnaire used by INEP after the completion of a training program.

In order to ensure the reliability and validity of the quantitative research questionnaire, we created and sent (through a specially designed platform) a questionnaire, which was completed anonymously by the research participants and sent back completed.

6. Empirical Analysis

6.1. Conclusions of Qualitative Research

During the period from December 2021 - November 2022, the following closed online training programs of EKDDA for the Region of Crete took place:

The evaluation of the reaction was carried out after the end of each training program, so as to capture the first impressions, as well as to assess the degree of satisfaction of its participants, and the experiences, knowledge they gained. The paper has the useful purpose of reporting on the reactions of the public sector

Table 1. Thematic cycles of total number of 281 participants.

employees to their training programs.

In order to draw the first conclusions from the training process, the participants received from the Department of Human Resources Development & Education, a relevant evaluation questionnaire where they were asked to answer specific questions (see Appendix A).

The statistical survey was carried out for the first thirteen (13) seminars. The respondents answered as follows:

It should be noted here that the above seminars have been selected by the Directorate of Organization, Quality and Efficiency, as well as the Department of Human Resources Development and Education, after consultation with the competent Directors-General of the Region of Crete, while at the same time the Directors of all Departments of the organization were informed in order to formulate their opinions-suggestions (Table 2).

Response rates inpercentage % (Average), for all training programs, per question:

In particular, we list the aggregate percentages (average), having classified the answers into two categories.

Table 2. Formulate their opinions-suggestions.

1) The first category concerns the percentages for the scale 1 - 3.

2) The second category concerns the percentages for the 4 - 5 scale.

We observe in Table 3, that the employees are interested by a large percentage (Average 70.14%) to take part in the evaluation of the training programs they participate in and to express their satisfaction after the training programs are completed. At the same time, according to data listed in Table 4, we observe particularly significant percentages on whether their expectations were met by the subject of the training programs (83.07%), on the duration of the training program in relation to educational needs (82.44%), on whether the knowledge they received is useful in the exercise of their work (84.57%), on the development of new competences/skills due to the training they received (73.89%). Furthermore, on whether the instructions, given by the trainers, helped them organize their office (71.7%) and, on whether they apply the instructions given to them during the training (71.11%). Finally, the percentage of overall satisfaction resulting from the monitoring of the training programs is particularly high (81.86%), while the satisfaction with the cooperation of Human Resources with the new Directorate and the competent Department of the organization (Human Resources Development & Education) is of the order of 94.14%.

Table 3. Employees responses.

But the most important thing is to propose new thematic units of their work interests, among other things, which will help them in their work and make them feel more productive by creating a sense of their ability to provide better quality services to citizens.

In the 9th question, the respondents (N = 198) gave a variety of answers, sometimes emphasizing exclusively the specialized educational subjects of the Directorates/Departments and other times focusing on subjects concerning the whole of the Human Resources organization. In Moreover, they also mentioned the realization of seminars concerning ways to deal with work stress,crisis management and work conflicts which highlights the problem that many Directorates/Departments of the organization face due to an excessively heavy load and volume of work. Moreover they don’t ignore that a healthy work environment,

Table 4. Expectations by subject.

which is characterized by an atmosphere of cooperation and not of conflict, is comprehensibly more productive. Since the final recipient of the services they provide is the citizen, they also focus on the implementation of programs in terms of better serving the citizens, looking for solutions through targeted programs of presentation of good practices. At the same time, due to the new Law 4940/2022 concerning the “System of target setting, evaluation and regulations for the human resources of the Public Sector”, the respondents strongly expressed the need to carry out related programs concerning target setting and evaluation indicators in the Public Administration (Table 5).

Finally, in the 10th question, the respondents (N = 198), clearly show the exhortation towards the Department of Education and their universal aspiration to carry on the realization of educational programs that will help them in their work, are both clearly visible. At the same time, they are focusing on the creation of as many hands-on training programs as possible (something they were deprived of for quite a long time due to the covid-19 conditions). In person they are given the opportunity to resolve questions, while at the same time a dialogue is created both between the trainee and the trainer, as well as among the trainees, thus creating opportunities for the exchange of opinions and experiences. In addition, emphasis was also put to the training of Human Resources in matters

Table 5. Number of respondents with suggestions.

related to the rights and obligations arising from the exercise of their duties, as well as to the acquisition of more knowledge in matters of Legislation governing specific Directorates/Departments, so that they feel safe and not be threatened with complaints or even with possible lawsuits by the citizens. They emphasize the continuation of the constant universal education of Human Resources in subjects that will provide them with additional digital competences and skills, considering that the new work standards require it (Table 6).

What also emerged from the results of the quantitative research is that they recognize the important role of the Directorate and the Department, which aim is to encourage their participation in the training programs, thus giving value to each employee separately, while they consider it particularly important for the opinion, of all human resources, or at least of the Supervisors/Heads of Departments, to be asked, in order for them to submit their views on the implementation of specific thematic subject-matters.

6.2. Final Conclusion and Future Research Agendas

Training is a critical area of human resource management as it is the fastest growing part of personnel activities. Training, which is referred to as a learning path for the development of skills by Human Resources, has helped organizations have a crucial strategy for the development of employees, with the aim of enhancing their productivity. The training process is one of the most widespread methods for enhancing the productivity of individuals and communicating goals to staff (Khan et al., 2011) .

The aim of this research is to highlight the need for education, training of human resources in the public sector, as well as the need to detect new training programs, which are considered indispensable and necessary for employees in order to help them with the needs that arise in the workplace and also to help them

Table 6. Number of respondents with suggestions considering the new work standards require.

better serve the citizens. Thus, through the research, the Directorate of Organization, Quality and Efficiency of the Region of Crete is given the opportunity to initially investigate the training needs of the Human Resources of the organization and then to request the planning and implementation of targeted training programs. At the same time, at the end of the implementation of the training programs, it is important for an evaluation of the training provided to be asked, so that it can be determined whether they met the real requirements of the human resources that participated in them.

According to Khan et al. (2011) training is the only factor of effectiveness and communication in all directions. In the present research, the majority of trainees consider that the training programs contributed to the upgrading of services, while the fact that the training programs are considered to have helped in the development of new competences and skills is quite important.

In conclusion, we observe that this research could be the stimulus so that there is additional participation of at least the Heads, if not the entire human resources of the organization in the training, selection of targeted educational programs and so that their opinion is not being ignored. In a future phase, a new questionnaire could be created with more targeted questions or a questionnaire could be sent (for example after one year), in order to ascertain the satisfaction that arises after a reasonable period of time of the participation of human resources in the foresaid training programs.

Additionally, the possibility of training by private training centers, by specialized professionals who will further contribute to the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences, could be considered. In this case, the possibility of these programs being paid for by the organization should be examined, after they are, of course, included in its annual budget in time.

Appendix A

Evaluation Research Questionnaire of the education of personnel of the Region of Crete


1“Region of Crete” refers to one of the 13 top-level administrative units in Greece, like Provinces or States in many countries.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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