European Pathway is a network of seven vocational upper secondary education and training providers in Finland. The aim of the network is to increase the transparency of internationalization studies, to promote the implementation of the European Credit Transfer System of Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) and to facilitate the mobility of labour force. The network creates models with which the professional learning and the infomal learning acquired during a student´s placement abroad can in full be recognised and validated to be a part of his/her individual study path. The network produces and tests language and culture preparation materials for students, to prepare them for placements in several European countries. The languages selected for the development work in this project are also the main languages in many countries outside of Europe.
European Pathway – a Gateway to work (EPaG) was a pilot project carried out by European Pathway – Network consisting of seven vocational education colleges in Finland and their international partners.
The aim of the Project was to pilot and develop long term VET learning mobilities (6-12months) for apprentices with the ultimate goal to enable young apprentices to develop their skills and enhance their employability prospects, whilst also strengthening their sense of European citizenship.
All participating colleges had long experience of providing their students with international apprentice mobilities. Still they did not have much experience of organising long-term mobilities. So far mainly short mobilities of 4-10 weeks and 2 week-long mobilities for students with special needs have been carried out.
According to studies the overall benefit of mobility for VET learner tends to increase with the length of experience. In this project we wanted to see if mobilities of more than six months would provide a higher added value in terms of improvement of professional, personal and social skills.
Main objectives of the project were:
- Find out if vocational colleges and workplaces around Europe are interested in developing long term,
6-12 months, transnational apprentice mobility schemes for longer terms.
- Identify what the obstacles are (legal, practical, institutional, academic etc.) that can prevent apprentices
from carrying out longer stays abroad and try to find solutions to these obstacles.
- Find out what the benefits for the companies are
- Find out what the benefits for the apprentices regarding employment and their professional skills are
- Find out how long term mobilities effect on the apprentices’ lifelong learning competences and European
- Find out how these mobilities can be assessed, validated and recognised to the apprentices’ Personal
Transcript so that they really are a part their studies not only added value
- Pilot long term VET learning mobilities (6-12months) for apprentices with the ultimate goal to
enable young apprentices to develop their skills and enhance their employability prospects, whilst also
strengthening their sense of European citizenship.
- Develop a concept model for company-apprentice matching. For this purpose, a set of documents e.g.
Learning Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding for long-term mobilities and assessment criteria
- Implement an online cultural coaching package for the apprentices to make it easier for them to settle
down in new surroundings.
- Disseminate the results and good practises of the project to all stakeholder
- Create sustainable cooperation structure between partners and find a good model for long term-term
mobilities. Is it cooperation directly with companies or with help of external organisations like intermediary companies and other vocational schools?
The Key results of this action were:
- That we successfully managed to carry out 19 (of 22) over 6 months internships were the participants gained an average of 55 competence points for they acquired skills during the period through identifying and recognizing their achieved skills abroad.
- That we managed to pilot the over 6 months internship in several disciplines (Hospitality and tourism, business studies, childcare, elderly care, mechanics, laboratory, electrical automation, agriculture and animal care) with people of varied age between 20-50 years of age.
- That we found out the legal and insurance issues and created a Memorandum of understanding and learning agreement for further use.
- That our pilot resulted in a written guide with do´s and don’ts in long-term internships that can be used by others.
- A model of how long-term apprentices and employers can be matched by the use of video CV and Skype interviews.
- A model for a creative content language integrated preparation course with the content of travelling safety and destination cultural aspects using blogs and Skype as communications tools (in order to prepare the apprentice for the mobility).
The benefits for the participating/sending VET providers were that they:
- Had the opportunity to pilot long-term mobility in a network which is more safe through peer experience and more time and cost efficient when the areas of responsibility and experiences could be shared
- Got a model with required legal documents for carrying out long-term mobilities in the future (MoU and Learning agreement)
- Got a diverse model of do`s and don´ts when carrying out long term mobilities
- Get new opportunities to attract students to VET –especially newly graduates
- Get a new model for mobility preparation using mobile devices (blogs and Skype)
- Find a way to make the students more employable that will affect the VET providers financially
- Build new networks
The benefits for the participating apprentices
- Improved language and 21st century skills
- Improved vocational skills
- International contacts
- Several of the apprentices said that their “value” on the job market increased and several apprentices got employed directly after their mobility (one in the destination country and several in Finland)
Benefits for the receiving organization
- The receiving organizations got “employees” for a longer time than usually and saw it as more time efficient. Some employers even got permanent employees.
- The employers saw that the apprentices brought on both language and cultural training for their staff.
- The receiving partners gained skills and ideas from abroad.
The lasting impact of the project is that most of participating VET providers have now applied for Erasmus+ funding for long-term mobilities and some have already sent out several students as they found the result from this pilot so positive.
The project has also had a multiplying affect as this pilot has also disseminated the results to other VET providers in Finland and to the Finnish National Agency of education (Finnish National Agency for Erasmus) that has shown a great interest for the project and the results.