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UmbriaNet: Internazionalizzazione della formazione professionale in Umbria
Start date: 01 Sep 2016, End date: 31 Aug 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Italy is among the less performing EU countries when it comes to youth employment, in 2015 the OECD estimated the youth unemployment rate around 40%. The Europe 2020 strategy asks to member states to renew their Education and Training systems in order to facilitate the acquisition of competences for young people, with particular reference to key competences and soft skills which are critical for a smart growth and a knowledge society. Furthermore, these competences contribute to improve the employability of young people as they are getting essential for the internationalisation of companies. However the Education and Training Monitor report published in 2015 affirms that in Italy “Work-based learning is not sufficiently developed and entry into the labour market is difficult for young people, including the high-skilled”. In its strategic framework Education and Training 2020, the EU defines mobility “an essential element of lifelong learning and an important means of enhancing people's employability and adaptability”, and highlights the need of making “periods of learning abroad — both within Europe and the wider world — the rule rather than the exception”. Regarding this aspect, the Region Umbria is supporting the introduction of a systemic approach on European mobility for VET students in upper secondary schools, aiming at integrating mobility in the curricula and encouraging local actors to collaborate to achieve this goal together, by implementing networking strategies and economies of scale. UmbriaNet is the first result of this approach. The project will offer the opportunity to live a three-weeks work-based learning experience abroad to 120 students from upper secondary schools in Umbria. The participating schools believe that mobility should be an integrated part of the VET courses they offer, therefore they will recognise and validate the competences acquired abroad by students making use of the Europass instruments and ECVET. Thanks to UmbriaNet, the participants will gain competences in cutting-edge sectors of the regional economy such as tourism and manufacturing industry, as well as key competences/soft skills like learning-to-learn, relational, intercultural and language skills, autonomy, entrepreneurship, problem solving, understanding of the workplace environment: all skills mostly required by companies nowadays both in local and european labour markets. The UmbriaNet consortium is formed by upper secondary schools, and the Region Umbria itself (the highest policy-maker in the territory), Uniser (a cooperative with 18 years of experience in learning mobility) and it is coordinated by Itaca which represents the link between education and local companies. In fact, Itaca is a consortium of 26 businesses which coordinates different educational activities in local schools. As for the European partners, the project involves 7 partners in 7 countries: Cyprus; France; Lithuania; Poland; Slovenia; Spain; Uk. All partners have shown competence and reliability in previous projects, always providing working experiences in line with the training course/sector of participants, which improves the chances for immediate employability after the qualification. After an information and selection phase, participants will benefit from a thorough preparation, covering language issues, practical organisation, cultural aspects, safety in the workplace, adaptation to a foreign country and to the foreign working environment. Each participant will sign a Learning Agreement, specifying learning objectives, expected results, logistic and organisational details of the work experience. During the project, beneficiaries will be followed by a tutor in Italy, a “logistic” tutor in the country of destination, and by a company tutor who will guide them through their working experience. There will also be a tutor in their schools who will answer all their questions before the departure. Upon return, a follow-up meeting will take place with the support of the schools to make participants reflect on the experience, update their CV and make the most out of their Erasmus+ experience. UmbriaNet will improve the employability of 120 young people and have an impact on the local educational system. In fact, the project will increase the competences of staff in schools, in order to make mobility easier and more accessible also for those schools that would not have enough resources to deal with it alone. Last but not least, UmbriaNet represents the beginning of a public-private partnership, aimed at improving local VET policies and achieve the objectives of the 2020 strategies. At the same time, the project is expected to attract private funding for the future, the only really effective way to make European mobility sustainable on a large scale, and grant the access to a wide number of young people.
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