News Blog


Should apprentices go abroad as part of their training?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013
By: Uta

We ran a poll and tweeted for your thoughts on apprentices taking part in European exchange programmes. We were surprised to read that some of you thought mobility was a new idea – but in reality it’s much more common than you may think.

It is more important than ever for the UK to be more competitive, so we think it’s a perfect time to discuss student mobility - or rather - the lack of it in the UK.

The UK is strong at attracting international students. But while 10% of the world’s foreign students in tertiary education choose to study in the UK, we lag behind when it comes to encouraging UK students to be mobile themselves. The UK ranks just 25th in the world for the number of students studying abroad.

British employers have always put great emphasis on skills acquired during work and study abroad. Therefore taking part in mobility programmes will position UK students better, not just at home but in the international labour market.

Mobility can lead to being well-rounded with strong leadership skills, vision and innovative thinking. Young people who have studied, worked or volunteered elsewhere in the world are more likely to be in employment and can usually command higher average salaries than those who don’t.

A study on mobility in school education, vocational education and training, adult education and youth exchanges, carried out by the European Commission, suggests that one European in five would consider moving abroad for work, but far fewer actually do so. So why do people want to work in another country and why do they end up staying at home?

The two most obvious obstacles that spring to mind are financial constraints and linguistic barriers.

60% of Europeans think that moving countries or regions is good for EU integration. Half think it’s good for the economy. However, some 39% of Europeans are discouraged from working abroad because it would mean leaving home, whilst 27% do not want to impose large changes on their families, and 21% do not want to leave their friends. Having to learn a new language puts 19% of Europeans off the idea of relocating.

Student mobility does not just mean a year abroad and studying at an overseas university. It also includes industrial placements, internships or work experience undertaken as part of a traineeship or apprenticeship. German employers, for example, are actively seeking native English speakers to exchange with. Other options could include an exchange visit to India or South Korea. Student mobility can involve a combination of studying and working, or working and volunteering, or a permutation of the three.

We are planning to set up mobility programmes for teachers/trainers and students to start at the end of 2014. We would welcome any feedback and interest so please e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your comments.


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