European opportunities for apprenticeship exchanges
Budding British and French apprentices united in a new international project last week in a move to influence apprenticeship exchanges in Europe.
The UK ranks just 25th in the world for the number of students studying abroad, despite being a main receiver of foreign students who take part in the EU’s Erasmus mobility programme.
The Anglo-French pilot saw 40 apprentices from Lille University join 15 apprentices from BT, aged 19- 21, to take part in Pan-European Apprenticeship Week from 3 – 7 June in Vauxhall, London.
Apprentices, who work in Chemist, Engineering and IT roles, crossed cultural and language boundaries to solve problem-based projects in order to transfer knowledge, improve intercultural working and multilingual skills.
The project led by the Instructus group of education charities, also aims to benefit European businesses by acting as introduction for exchange programmes between British and French apprentices.
Head of International at Instructus, Uta Sempf, said: “The project has been an amazing success, as apprentices have really embraced this project. They work together, putting aside their cultural and language differences. They want to learn from each other – and employers can tap into this knowledge too.
“By going abroad, apprentices and their employers can benefit from shared knowledge and enhanced business and life skills.”
This project aims to offer UK business apprentices the chance to experience other approaches to training and learn new languages and ways of working.
BT apprentice, Isaac Edinyah, said: “This is a good opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and learn from them. I can already find myself learning new words! Our groups worked well and I feel I know a bit more about apprenticeships outside of BT.
“It’s hard not to feel ignorant when our language skills aren’t as good as theirs so I would really like to go to France and do a similar programme.”
Apprentices took part in seminars and projects on Corporate Social Responsibility, led by Associate Director of Institute of Administrative Management, Rachel Davey, also part of the Instructus Group.
Students were given the opportunity to review and discuss examples of real organisation approaches to CSR at BPP University College, Waterloo. They also looked at how organisations promoted their CSR activities to wider audiences. This was in preparation for their case study activities taking place for the rest of the week.
Rachel said: “There was a real buzz in the room despite many only coming across business terminology like CSR for the first time. Despite the challenges of translation the students all engaged and worked together to present their key points following on from their discussions’.
BPP University College partnered with Instructus and offered the use of their facilities for the project.
Following this successful pilot, Instructus would like to invite employers to get involved in hosting similar events with partners initially from Germany, Finland and Spain.
UK businesses have recently been vocal in championing the value of skills acquired during work and study abroad. However the number of outgoing UK Erasmus students was fewer than 12,000 in 2009/10, compared with 31,158 from Spain, 30, 213 from France, and 28, 854 from Germany.