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Workplacements in the UK
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Young professionals in their vocational training have to face more and more situations where English is needed as a tool of communication. Globalisation and internationally operating companies have a great demand for qualified students whose command of English is fluent enough to cope with international challenges. Naturally these young people and their teachers and trainers need to build on their basic language skills by getting the chance to use English in a practical context during the training process. It is here where our project can contribute most. Trainees who have not yet had the opportunity to participate in European exchange programmes in particular will benefit from our project. When in 2004/2005 English was introduced as a compulsory subject in vocational business schools for students in retail sales and office administration, this was the starting point for our school to tailor a special language learning programme for this target group alongside their normal English lessons. Initially an exchange programme was designed in the form of a three week college course to meet these students´ needs by focussing on practical English usage and intercultural competence at the same time. However, as our students strive for work experience it very soon became clear that workplacements abroad would be of even greater use to them. So the altered training programme that has been established since enables the participating students to do internships as well as college training. Our project “Workplacements in the UK” offers a three week stay abroad to 20 students of our school who are currently in their vocational training. Students of all departments can apply, as long as they demonstrate a basic knowledge of English and show motivation. The same qualifications are required of members of staff who want to take part in the programme. During their three week stay in Brighton (UK) participants are expected to develop their communication and language skills both in general and in their special professional field. In a kick-off seminar in the first three days of their stay the participants receive individual training sessions purposefully designed to meet their individual needs. This will enable them to cope with their two weeks employment in the various English businesses, which will be organized for them well in advance. To add to their intercultural competence, students will be accommodated with English host families and thus will experience every day English life throughout their stay. On the last day of the programme there is an opportunity for reflection and evaluation. Along with the Europass, all participants will get a certificate of attendance from our organizing partner Workplacements UK, and a qualifying employer´s reference from their individual work places. Taking part in this project helps young people to develop their personality, to increase their self-confidence and to broaden their occupational horizons as the programme requires great flexibility and the readiness to handle an unfamiliar environment. Thus the ability to adapt to the constantly changing challenges of the working world is improved. Furthermore we hope the project will encourage students´ interest in further education and qualifications while still in training and in the long term to encourage them to seek employment abroad. Enabling our staff to participate in the project is a genuine part of our school´s continuing personnel development. In the course of our policy of developing an international focus this programme will eventually lead to an even wider opening of the “Beruflichen Schulen Wittelsbacher Land” to the outside “working” world. Practical work experience abroad for our training personnel will help to implement the European focus in our lessons and to encourage this ethos in our students, who live in a Europe which is growing closer day by day. In this context the opportunities that are offered by the Workplacement-Project are ones that will enable our students and staff to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
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