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Changing Lives : Opening Minds - Leeds City College skills' development across Europe
Start date: Jun 1, 2014, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

“Knowledge is the engine for sustainable growth” (Europe 2020 Strategy). The New Skills for New Jobs agenda highlights the need to raise the quality of education, extend lifelong learning and upgrade skills to overcome the socio-economic crisis affecting European countries. Young people are currently suffering from very high levels of unemployment and need to be supported by flexible, high quality education and training systems which respond to the needs of today and tomorrow by matching their learning outcomes to the skills required by employers. As stated in the Lisbon Treaty, they also need to be empowered to participate actively in society, to develop their professionalism and to enhance their social skills. This project will underwrite the Leeds City College strategic aim to extend the employability skills (defined as “a set of attributes, skills and knowledge to ensure effectiveness in the workplace to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider community”) of its staff and students by building on previous experiences of supporting staff and student transnational work placements through the Lifelong Learning Programme. NIACE has highlighted the need for increased collaboration between providers and employers to effectively meet the needs of learners/employees through providing the requisite skills and opportunities; these placements for LCC staff and students will go some way to providing prospective employees, and their Tutors, with the necessary knowledge and skills to support these vocational sectors in the region. This project will enable 270 students, supported by 57 accompanying staff, to undertake work placements for 2/3weeks, and 23 staff to undertake one week placements to 35 organisations based in 13 Member States – Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Staff participation will enable LCC Tutors to review the College’s Strategic Plan in the context of the hosting organisation, to assess new teaching and learning methodologies and to liaise with employers. On return they will disseminate their experience and work to impact on the modernisation and internationalisation of the College. In the light of the current economic climate this opportunity will give the students an advantage in the labour market (both in the UK and overseas) as they will have not only the relevant qualifications but also appropriate knowledge and customer care skills to enable them to work constructively in these vocational areas. In countries with relevant experience the following sectors will be supported by the ECVET system - Care (Estonia, Finland & Malta), Construction (Estonia), Hospitality & Catering (France), IT (Estonia), Sport (Finland), Travel & Tourism (Finland), thus ensuring that the skills acquired by the student participants can be recognised as part of their UK qualification. Tools will be developed to be fit for this purpose – Memorandum of Understanding, Learner Agreement, Mobility Agreement. The hosting vocational training organisations and companies, which include previous and new partners, have all been chosen for their ability to support staff to develop their teaching and learning skills, and students to access continuing training towards their qualifications in an appropriate working environment. LCC will liaise with the hosting organisations to establish the optimum times for these placements to fit in with local market demand, taking into account any national holidays to maximise the benefits to be gained in the context of their own UK responsibilities. For apprentices (who form a large number of this cohort of students) discussions will take place with employers, as well as Tutors, to ensure that the placements best fit all current requirements. The possibility of participating in such a project gives LCC students something achievable to aim for and acts as a tremendous incentive to retention. At the start of their courses many were classified as “disaffected” – they suffered from lack of support from home and from previous education providers which impacted on their achievements, shown by their low levels of self-esteem and academic success. In addition, they had limited work experience in their vocational sectors; these placements show them that rewards can be gained through “effort” rather than “success”. In all these vocational sectors the students’ employability skills are vital. These placements will give the participants, both staff and students, the opportunity to develop skills – self-management, team working, problem solving, commitment, energy, enthusiasm, communication, positive attitude and mind set - which will support them on their return to the UK, not only into employment but also to enable them to impact in their role at LCC and to participate actively in society.
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