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Evropská keramika / European Ceramics
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Our aim was to improve the vocational skills of 15 students of our school and above all to give them the opportunity to expand their work experience in their area of study through an internship abroad. The project of internships abroad under real working conditions was an absolute novelty at our school and our students were thus for the first time able to travel to Portugal to gain work experience. Although we have established partnerships with Germany as well, regarding other activities, we have not been able to offer such an extended period of training abroad so far. Thanks to the Erasmus+ project we supported 15 students of the Vocational School of Construction Pilsner (SOU stavební Plzeň), the Horní Bříza centre, who study in the following study programmes: “Craft of artistic processing of stone and ceramics” and “Pottery design and manufacture”. They all worked in the pottery workshop A Tulipa – Cerámica decorativa, LDA, which is located in the town of Barcelos in Northern Portugal. It should be pointed out that Portugal, especially its northern part, is a region renowned for its pottery, so our students were able to work right at the source, yet at the same time in a very different environment, since there is not only modern pottery manufactured in the Minho region, but also traditional pottery. The students were sent on the internship in two cycles – the first one took place in October 2015, the second one in March 2016. The participants were chosen in an open selection process, in which every student could take part, although it was primarily aimed at students of the second to the fourth year of study. However, based on her great results there was one first-year student who took part in the project. Both groups of participants worked in Portugal for the duration of two weeks and after the completion of their internship they brought back to the Czech Republic not only newly gained experience and memories, but also the Europass Mobility certificates, which serve as proof of their work experience abroad. The internship has been recognized as part of the students’ curricula. The programme was designed to comply with the tasks typical for the occupation of Pottery Decorator according to the National Register of Qualifications, bearing in mind especially the fact that the work experience has to be eligible for recognition by the future Czech employers. In terms of vocational skills the internship focused on the practical tasks involved in pottery production: working the material, preparing and applying glaze, firing of the final product, doing the finishing touches, as well as storing, packaging, labelling, and dispatching the products. The students also had the opportunity to learn about the requirements on the accompanying documentation that comes with the final product. In the Tulipa company they thus experienced the whole process of pottery manufacturing in practice, which is something that awaits them should they start their own business. During their internship the students also practised their English, both technical and conversational. Thanks to the internship they conquered their fear of the unknown, and many of them can now imagine they could work abroad. As it was the first time implementing the project, we had set up a set of rules and formed a team for the purposes of project management. The clearly defined rules helped with the successful implementation of the project. Not a single problem arose during the project period, which was in part due to a good choice of the partner organization, AIAM, which arranged the students’ internships in the Tulipa company. The owner of the company praised our students at the end of both mobility cycles. The students received the grant in the form of in-kind contributions and there were very well taken care of in Portugal. We arranged for transportation by plane for both journeys. The direct connection between Prague and Porto in the autumn was to our advantage. We arranged comfortable accommodation with full board for the students in Portugal. In their free time they got to know both the town of Barcelos, and also Braga, as well as the more distant Porto and Guimaraes. All trips were focused on learning about pottery manufacturing, especially the use of azulejos, which are ceramic tiles typically used for decorating the exterior of buildings. It is something the students will not encounter in the Czech Republic. Appropriate insurance of every participant was of course also arranged in order to eliminate possible risks. The project helped us not only to improve the starting position of our future graduates when they start looking for work, but it also helped to increase the quality of education at our school and significantly motivated our students in their studies, since their study results were one of the criteria in the selection process. We would like to continue in such activities in the future.
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