From Merthyr Tydfil to France - Construction student speaks about his experience of European work placements at ERASMUS 2014 Conference


College Merthyr Tydfil Construction student, Richard Rowley has been selected to speak about his experience of European work placements at the ERASMUS 2014 Conference.

Richard, who was a Pathways to Apprenticeship student, has now progressed and is completing a CITB level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship with ‘Allied Welsh’ and The College Merthyr Tydfil. Richard, who has also completed a level 2 City and Guilds Certificate in External Wall Insulation, Literacy and Numeracy level one and Literacy level 2 is currently in the process of completing his level 2 Numeracy qualification.

Throughout his last three years at the college, Richard was  fortunate to spend two weeks  working abroad through the Leonardo Programme[1] (which has now been replaced by Erasmus +).  This is an experience which he believes has helped him enormously by improving his confidence and giving him the skills and confidence required to help him succeed in his studies and gain a successful apprenticeship position with Allied Welsh.

Richard commented “My trip abroad was to Eco Chateau in France. I remember feeling very daunted. When I first arrived I just wanted to go home. However after two days, I really started to enjoy myself.   I can honestly say that the trip has been the making of me. Not only did it enable me to gain relevant work experience, but the trip also enabled me to learn about the vocational skills and cultures of other European countries. We also participated in educational trips to historical places such as Arromanches where the Normandy landings took place”.

Richard will provide an overview of his experiences at the conference, which is taking place at Aston University Conference Centre on 26th and 27th November. Richard said “I’m a little nervous about speaking to so many people at the conference but I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences in the hope that it will encourage more students to take up opportunities like this”.

In addition to Richard, the college’s Head of Enterprise and Project Manager of the Leonardo Programmes, Chris Bissex, will be speaking at the conference to showcase the success of the programme at the college. Christine commented “I was extremely pleased to have received the invitation and am proud to share our experiences and success stories with other schools and colleges”.

Over the last three years, over 100 students from Construction, Business Studies, Engineering and Hairdressing programmes at The College Merthyr Tydfil have participated in The Leonardo Programme with another 30 students currently receiving German lessons ready to go across to BBZ Vocational Training centre in Schleswig, Germany at the end of November.  The two week placement provides a comprehensive programme of activities beginning with a detailed induction into German/French life, language and culture prior to the students embarking on a work placement. The students are then provided with an opportunity to gather together at the end of the fortnight and share their experiences. 

Simon Robson, Head of Construction at The College Merthyr Tydfil believes that engagement in the programme has contributed to a number of his students successfully gaining employment at the end of their studies. Simon stated “The programme has enabled the college to work together with European partners to improve training, skills and employability for our students. It offers a life changing challenge that builds confidence and increases aspirations”.

The College offers a range of Construction and Work Based Learning Apprenticeship courses with a variety of trade routes such as Brickwork, Painting and Decorating, Carpentry and Plastering.

Students can sample the activities on offer at our open evening on Thursday 27th November 2014. For further information, visit

[1] The Leonardo programme was part of the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme  from 2007-2013. It supported UK vocational education and training (VET) organisations, staff and learners to work together with European partners to improve training, skills and employability.

The Leonardo programme has now been replaced by Erasmus+, the new European funding programme for education, training, youth and sport. New funding opportunities for vocational education and training can be found on the Erasmus+ UK website.


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