Monday 16 September 2019

Varied work placements available across EU

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Charis Hughes

Students in further education and training don't just study abroad, they can work in European companies to get real-life experience that directly relates to their studies, and establish valuable industry contacts for the future.

Work placements for vocational or FET students are as varied as Europe itself. Fashion students from Galway Technical Institute have worked with top designers to create costumes for the Tenerife Carnival; Veterinary Nursing students from St John's College Cork cared for small animals in Dost Veterinary Clinic in Kusadasi, Turkey; while Tourism students from Dunboyne College in Meath found themselves working behind the scenes in Malta Airport.

Inchicore College in Dublin has a long tradition of sending drama students to work with Commedia dell'Arte performers in Venice, where in the words of one student "you are required to be the writer, director, mask maker, costume designer, musician and actor.

"You are shown how to become all of these, you are supported in this work but fundamentally you have to show up and do it. No one could come away from these three weeks unchanged because the journey is too great not to learn. An experience like this is encouraging, stressful, powerful and packed full of learning."

Students can spend between two weeks and 12 months abroad, although the vast majority of placements are three to four weeks.

Colleges receive Erasmus+ funding through Léargas to arrange the placements, so students should be sure to ask their college if there is an Erasmus+ opportunity on their course - or encourage them to plan one in the future. The funding covers travel, accommodation and living expenses, and students who are abroad for more than 19 days get an online language learning course.

A Léargas study on Erasmus+ work placements last year found there was a big impact on students' professional and intercultural skills, self-confidence and independence.

Over 90pc of students believed their placement had increased their chances of getting a new or better job, and several reported going back to work in the same company after they'd graduated.

Factor in that 95pc of students said they had gained knowledge, skills or competences that they wouldn't have gained at home, and an Erasmus+ vocational placement offers a strong start to any career.

Charis Hughes, Léargas

Irish Independent

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