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Optimising Apprentice Employment Prospects Through European Mobility
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

A key factor contributing to the development of the skills gap between Scottish and European players has been a relative lack of interaction between our apprentice players and those at European clubs. This has been ongoing over the past 10-15 years, at a time of major European innovations in player development and coaching delivery. This ignorance of advanced European methodology has hindered skills acquisition among our young apprentice players, relative to European player development on an age-matched basis. This project allowed a group of 20 Dundee United FC apprentices (aged from 16 to 19 years of age) to gain experience of the training methods at an acknowledged (UEFA) Centre of Excellence in Turkey. The Turkish host partner is a regional training and coaching complex used by Turkish and European professional teams which are applauded as having world class records in talent identification, innovative coaching and player development. Innovations in physiological development, dietetics, coaching delivery, tactical analysis and cardiovascular training were studied and used to improve skills acquisition and player development. Improved success rates for apprentices in being admitted to the professional ranks of UK clubs were anticipated, while improved academic attainment and European exposure will improve employability in secondary careers. Consequently this project prioritised the following specific objectives : 1. Improved physiological development of participants via the implementation of innovative training regimes as a direct result of structured Erasmus+ mobility programme. 2. Skills and technology transfer between the Academy mobility apprentices and players in Europe. 3. Improved employment rates for mobility participants in professional football careers. 4. Improved linguistic skills for participants and an awareness of the cultural diversity within another European country. 5. Increased maturity and sense of initiative. 6. Increased self-empowerment and self-esteem. 7. Enhanced intercultural awareness. 8. More active participation in work and social environments. 9. Enhancement of soft skills. 10. Increased motivation both on and off the field. Our Turkish partner and the associated local Turkish clubs were fully committed to this Erasmus+ project, having successfully hosted IVT and/or VETPRO participants from a variety of European countries funded under the previous Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme. Dundee United FC have recently completed a successful mobility trip to Turkey in January 2014 and this has formed the foundation for this Erasmus+ funding application. Young people in Dundee and Tayside are, in the main, rather parochial in nature and exhibit a reluctance to undertake occupational mobility. This is particularly so with young people in the region where many have poor records of academic achievement and are socially disadvantaged. At present, fewer than 1% of persons under the age of 21 in Tayside undertake a work-related mobility placement. This project directly addressed this regional shortcoming and will contribute to the Lisbon and Europe 2020 Strategies. Football clubs are fairly unique entities in the access to the media of publicity and this will prove an excellent dissemination vehicle to encourage other young people to seek out mobility opportunities. Dundee United FC publicised the project through local and national media, to include television, radio and national and local newspapers. This was complemented by our European partners, who actively participated in the dissemination processes by issuing press releases to local media throughout the mobility. Friendly matches played by the participants against host opposition were publicised in the host region and attendance by local spectators was actively encouraged. Aside from our own internal evaluation processes, Dundee United FC participated in a Sector Skills Alliance (SSA) involving other UK football clubs who are participating in Erasmus+ VET Learner mobility. This SSA seeked to improve the content and delivery of vocational training programmes and training methodologies in the UK by sharing European best practice and incorporating these initiatives within the vocational education framework. A particular focus was put on work-based learning and processes that provide learners with mobility-enhanced skills to maximise their potential for success in the labour market.

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