Matching the right trainees with the right businesses to create successful international work placements
There is no shortage of people turning to matchmaking services as finding 'the one' seemingly becomes increasingly difficult in our busy modern lives.
Similarly, finding the right fit between a learner or trainee and potential host organisations when arranging work placements can be just as problematic.
Given that this is the main focus of their work, the team at the European Placement Network (EPN) were eager to address this issue - and secured Erasmus+ funding to do just that.
Bringing together eight vocational education and training (VET) organisations from seven countries, the MATCHSI project set out to build an essential resource to connect work placement providers with participants.
"We were aware that the pre-placement information collected and shared between the trainees, VET providers and the potential host companies was frequently insufficiently detailed," said EPN's J Christophe Wells.
“The whole aim of the project was to improve the accuracy of the matching process so that both the trainees and host companies get the maximum benefit from their work placements.”
A cost-effective and time-efficient resource
MATCHSI is a simple, process-driven resource which builds upon existing EU tools such as the Europass CV with a multilingual, user-friendly and adaptable toolkit to match the needs and expectations of trainees and host companies.
“We were very keen for this resource to be used by organisations that have never before organised work placements and also for people with experience of the process that would want to improve their practices,” said Christophe.
An international perspective
Working with partners from Portugal, Germany, Italy, France, Norway and Spain was an essential part of the project for Christophe.
“The value of working with partners from all over Europe, the richness of the exchanges and shared experiences are crucial if we are to find innovative solutions to the changing demands of education and employment,” he said.
Benefits for trainees
The toolkit, which included guidance and template information forms, was thoroughly tested on a control group of 80 trainees who undertook international work placements of between three to 26 weeks in duration.
Accessibility and inclusion were factored in with a significant number of these placements involving young people who would not typically take part in transnational mobility, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The company was a match made in heaven for me. I got really close to the staff and made friends and memories that will last forever.
The feedback and results from the test subjects were analysed and compared to a group of non-user trainees.
"Trainees were far more satisfied with their placement if they’d used MATCHSI because they felt that the placement was more appropriate for them," said Christophe.
André Frandsen, a hospital kitchen apprentice from Oppland in Norway, was delighted with his work placement at an Italian restaurant after using the MATCHSI process.
"I think the company was a match made in heaven for me," he said. "I got really close to the staff and made friends and memories that will last forever, and the new knowledge will guide and form me as a chef for ages to come.
"Restaurant kitchen and hospital kitchen is very different in regards of nutrition and cooking. But I wanted to work in a restaurant and I loved it so much."
French trainee Bastien Leyzour completed an internship with the Bristol Language Centre, working as an administrative assistant.
“Week after week, I took more and more confidence in my work and I improved my language skills," he said. "The three months sped by too fast and was a most amazing experience.”
More than 600 additional work placements were managed during the life span of the project involving 513 host companies, 41 VET providers and 35 other stakeholders.
Partners became aware of successful and different approaches across countries and produced a compendium of good practice to help VET organisations manage their future projects.
Christophe believes that by helping learners secure successful work placements their chances of getting future job roles are boosted.
“What people look for in a CV is something different. International work placements can help young people stand out and help them get an interview.”
The story continues
MATCHSI is part of a fully-rounded strategy aiming to improve the quality of the work-based learning experience while reducing the time spent on planning and delivering the work placements.
EPN and six other partners are currently working on delivering three follow-up resources. This includes a smartphone/tablet application that will allow organisations and trainees to record, organise, share and present objective evidence of achievements and learning, linking with ECVET.
Want to know more about VET funding opportunities under Erasmus+? Take a look at our VET funding page!