Staff at The College Merthyr Tydfil are celebrating after successfully gaining Erasmus+ funding (worth €612,000) to provide opportunities for further education students to take part in work experience placements abroad.
Formerly known as the Leonardo Programme, The Erasmus+ funding will enable the college to build upon its well established and successful international work experience programme, providing opportunities for 272 students from across nine vocational areas – Construction, Motor Vehicle, Engineering, Business, IT, Childcare, Travel & Tourism, Hair and Beauty – to travel to Germany and take part in work experience over the next two years.
Working with key partner organisations - including BBZ Vocational Training centre in Schleswig and UAG, Jena – the two week placements will provide a comprehensive programme of activities beginning with a detailed induction into German 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 an international work experience 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. Although a little nervous about holding down a work placement in a foreign country, all of the students we have taken have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and gained confidence and skills during their time abroad.”
Level 1 Carpentry student Kion Payne has recently returned from two weeks work experience with Zimmerman Carpenters based in Schleswig, Germany. Kion commented “The placement was really good. I had experience of flooring and roofing techniques used in Germany and also got to experience a bit of German life and culture. The experience has helped to increase my confidence and maturity. I’m now hoping to progress on to level 2 of the course in September. I’d love to go back next year.”
The college plans to take forward the work experience programme from November 2015 to June 2017. In addition to enhancing the students confidence and employability skills, the programme will also contribute positively to the attainment of wider Essential skills such as Working with others, Problem solving and Improving own Learning and Performance.
Chris Bissex, Head of Enterprise and Employability and Programme Manager for the Erasmus+ and Leonardo programmes said “We are absolutely delighted to have received this funding at the college. This adds a whole new dimension to many courses and just adds to the great experience students get whilst at the college. Students undertaking this work experience are at a distinct advantage when applying for jobs and university, they have wider ambitions and believe there are opportunities in life for them within Europe."
 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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