Standing out from the crowd: real-world work experience for college learners
Britain is forecast to have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025 and needs a skilled workforce to continue this growth. Social enterprise REY Europe’s projects aim to address emerging skills gaps across a variety of sectors including tourism by providing work placement opportunities in Europe and the UK.
Through the organisation’s Key Action 1 VET mobility project ‘Travel & Tourism’ BTEC learners from Barking & Dagenham College and Bath College undertake an eight-week work placement in Seville, Spain, gaining new skills and professional experience.
During the two-year project, a total of 88 students have taken part in the mobility project, gaining a wide range of practical experience in the travel and tourism sector. One hundred percent of learners who took part in the project said they felt their chances of getting a new or better job had increased.
Learning abroad is like another life... something I have never done before and is good for my CV - Charlotte Chuck, participant
Pre and post-placement
The project has a range of best practice elements in preparing participants for their time abroad, including Spanish lessons, an orientation to the city and managing in unexpected scenarios. Participants also receive support from their tutors and live with a Spanish host family.
When they arrive back to the UK, they bring more than just memories with a stronger professional profile in their luggage too. They highlight the personal development gained along the placement, by feeling more confident and being able to work more independently.
For Marcus Miller, from REY Europe, the main benefits of taking part in the Erasmus+ programme have been: “The opportunity to develop partnerships with educational organisations, to increase awareness of students’ needs in specific courses and expand our existing mobility focus, working with a different kind of client, the younger people.”
The mobility also enhances the value of the course for the colleges involved and is embedded in the course curriculum using ECVET principles. These ensure all the learning that happens while on mobility is recognised, assessed and validated so that it forms credit towards the learners’ courses back in the UK. The work experience unit of a learner’s course can be fully completed through the mobility placement. With the added value of undertaking the placement abroad and in the travel and tourism industry.
Charlotte Chuck, a participant from Barking & Dagenham College, pictured above, said staying with her host family in Spain was nerve wracking but helped her to come out of her shell and gave her confidence.
She said although the language barrier was difficult the preparation she received before her placement helped her to overcome these challenges.
“I’ve worked in a hostel, taken visitor tours in three different areas and have done marketing on the streets, something I have never done before and it’s going to be good on my CV."
Want to find out more about VET mobility opportunities? Take a look at our KA1 VET page.