Three nationalities and countries came together today at The College Merthyr Tydfil to celebrate the work of the Erasmus + programme and the benefits of European work placements.
The Erasmus + programme provides an opportunity for over 100 college students to go out and undertake work experience in Germany each year. Working with key partner organisations - including BBZ Vocational Training centre in Schleswig and UAG, Jena – the two week placements 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.
This year, for the first time, the college has also begun to offer opportunities for European learners to come and undertake a work placement here at the college.
German students Katrina, Sarah and Hannah arrived in Wales in February 2017. Currently studying at the IFSB in Germany, the three students provided an overview of their time in Merthyr Tydfil and Wales and their views on the college in comparison to their college back in Germany.
Commenting on the differences and similarities between the Welsh and German cultures, the students reflected that, in addition to the currency and language, they had noticed a number of differences between the food, buildings, infrastructure and dress codes of each county. Business and Travel and Tourism students, who have recently returned from a two week placement in Jena, also commented on the differences between the transport system and laws on crossing the road.
New for 2017, the college – working together with Colegau Cymru, has also been successful in obtaining further Erasmus + funding to provide work experience opportunities in Madrid. To kick start this partnership, two Spanish students have recently had the opportunity to come over to the college and work alongside the Head of Enterprise and Employability in order to learn more about the Erasmus programme and general college life.
Tatianna and Alexandra, who are at the college until June, commented “The placement has provided an excellent opportunity for us to come and learn all about study and work in Wales, learn about the culture of Wales and also help us to improve our English language skills. I would recommend this programme to other learners.”
Chris Bissex, Head of Enterprise and Employability at The College Merthyr Tydfil believes that engagement in the Erasmus + work experience programme has contributed to a number of college students successfully gaining employment at the end of their studies. Chris 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. I’m really looking forward to expanding upon this further to provide additional opportunities for more European students like Tatianna, Alexandra, Katrina, Sarah and Hannah, to come over to Wales and undertake a work placement here at the college.”
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