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Vocational and Cultural Proficiency in an International Environment
Start date: Jun 1, 2016, End date: May 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background and Participants:Students completing a vocational education as Commercial Assistants at the Kolping College of Commerce and Foreign Languages in Heilbronn enjoy a predominantly theoretical education. In order to enhance the quality of their training and to improve the employment prospects of the young students, it is desirable for their education to include a period of practical experience abroad. Within the framework of this project, a total of approximately 25 future commercial assistants from both the first and second years of the course will take part in three-week study trips to Spain or Great Britain during the spring of 2017. At this juncture, they have yet to gain any practical experience in a foreign country.Activities:The activities comprise instruction in the foreign language and business administration at the partner institute, company visits and school projects, as well as cultural events. The contents of the trip are organised so as to complement and augment the for the most part theoretical education provided by the College.Aims of the Project:The study trips are founded on the three elements of the foreign language and culture, and the world of business, and are designed to achieve goals relevant to the students' education. The knowledge students have acquired of the foreign language in the classroom can be tried out and deepened in another European country. Students are given the opportunity to undertake operational tasks while gaining an insight into the business life of the foreign country and familiarising themselves with its work culture and lifestyle.Procedure and Implementation:We remain in continuous contact with our partner institutes, so that we can involve students, parents, teachers and the college as a whole during the course of the year leading up to a study trip. As soon as assurance of support has been granted, the project managers contact our partner institutes in order to co-ordinate the details. The project management team deals with the organisation of the trip and the formalities of insurance and legal contracts, also communicating with the parents of the participants on these matters. Host families are selected by our partner institutes. The students themselves finally draw up the supporting programme as part of their course in project management at the College.Aims and Benefits:Participants write reports in which they present their results and how they personally have benefited from the study trip. These reports are summarised and distributed in the form of a general report, which is made available to the local press as well as being displayed on exhibition stands (e.g. at education fairs) and in the library of the College. The results we aspire to achieve are to increase participants' abilities in the foreign language as well as their intercultural competence, and to improve their school marks and education. In addition, they gain practical experience, a more attractive profile for their CV, and contacts at companies in other European countries, all of which are beneficial when seeking future employment. Another aim of the College is to foster close ties to our co-operation partners in other European countries and a wilingness to conduct further mobility and EU projects.There are long-term benefits not only for the future careers of our participants but also for firms, inasmuch as we provide them with well-educated skilled personnel.A further positive effect is the promotion of the European idea with the international orientation of our vocational training. By disseminating the results, the significance of mobility both for the individual and for vocational education in general is made visible, and awareness of the need for internationalisation in vocational training increased. A final advantage is that the College of Commerce and Foreign Languages at the Kolping-Bildungszentrum Heilbronn itself is perceived as an institution acting at a European level for the European idea.
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