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Apprenticeship Enhancement & Exit and Progression Opportunities
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

We are Eastbourne's leading football club currently playing in the Vanarama Conference South, which is the sixth tier of English football - two divisions off of the Football League. It is our ambition to become the first football club in the history of the town to play in the Football League and so in 2015 we applied for and secured Erasmus+ funding to undertake a mobility programme to Austria with the objectives being to upskill our football apprentices to improve their employment prospects. Whilst we operate a business, the community ethos runs through everything we do. Although football has remained the major sporting focus, the provision of amenities for others in our town has remained part of the Club’s ethos, as it has become the hub of the local community and one of the most progressive organisations in the town. We were the first football club in the country to become a Community Interest Company. The Eastbourne Borough FC (EBFC) Academy provides a two year full time educational and football development programme for players aged between 16 and 18 and it was these apprentices who were eligible to travel on the Erasmus+ mobility to Austria in July 2015. The mobility was effectively planned, organised, monitored and evaluated by EBFC's mobility management team to ensure that the key learning outcomes and objectives were achieved. A key objective for participants was that they benefitted from up-skilling and the potential for improved employability. The programme was targeted at benefiting participants who were disadvantaged in the labour market which, by virtue of the competitiveness of professional football, the learners inevitably are. Often players come from socially deprived areas, have learning difficulties and a limited interest or ability in academic education. Each participant benefitted from improved employability, enhanced career progression and greater job security following the mobility. As part of the evaluation process the reports from participants benchmarked what learning objectives had been achieved and these were compared and contrasted against the participants’ intended outcomes. Tables were prepared to analyse the relative % success rates against each specific outcome. All feedback from the participants, partners and management team was collated and will be used to improve future mobilities, if undertaken. EBFC has continued to track its participants' employment history since the mobility and will continue do so for a period of three years, in order to establish key data and trends regarding the direct correlation between this successful European mobility and improved employability. Similarly, our team’s performance will also be measured annually for a period of three years to establish any direct correlation with improved competitiveness via results. Jay Lovett, Academy Director and Project Manager was key to the evaluation process. Knowing the candidates personally he was able to provide a balanced judgement in relation to individual benefits and enhanced learning gained by each participant as a result of the mobility. Following the mobility both participants and the partner organisations feedback was correlated into a final report which identified project outcomes and areas for improvement in the event of future mobilities; critically assessing skills acquisition, language training and cultural integration.

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