Industry issues - advisors speak out
Q. Do you have many requests for vocational education in a foreign country from agency clients?
Marina Martine, Campus Brasil, Brazil “We have noticed an increase in the demand of students looking for vocational courses abroad. In reality, they are often young professionals (23-to-35 year olds) with good language skills who want to take a career break. They don’t want to do a language course abroad so they choose a short course (six months) in their field of study. From our experience, these students would rather do a postgraduate course, however, prices and durations are prohibitive. The most popular courses are in Marketing, Management and International Business and the top destination is Australia with its vast range of courses and schools. Students with degrees from universities in Brazil are aware that those courses are not likely to improve their CV. However, vocational courses offer everything they are looking for: a career break, an experience abroad, interaction with local students, the chance to practise their English and affordable tuition fees.”
Zilda Amaro, Oxford School, Portugal “In spite of the economic situation we are facing in Portugal, we have noticed that the demand for courses abroad has been growing, especially for vocational training, such as English for Management, Banking, Tourism, Marketing and Fashion. The number has gone up about 15 per cent. Many of those who are interested in this type of course are recent university leavers, in the 25-to-30 age range, who are seeking their first job. Several others who consider these courses are unemployed and looking for opportunities either in Portugal or abroad. In either of these cases, it is recognised that being fluent in English is absolutely essential to be competitive in the job market.”
Joaquín sáez, Learning OUt, Spain
“The percentage of those who request vocational programmes is increasing but not too much because in my opinion here in Spain these programmes are not as popular as they are in other countries. Students requesting these programmes are, on average, in their 20s, especially men. The most popular destinations are the UK and Canada. The most popular fields of study are Engineering, Nursing and Tourism. Here, Tourism is one of the most important industries in Spain, although 30 per cent of employees are foreigners. Engineering and Nursing are getting more popular for those who have to go to another country to find a job. The market is growing because people see that they need to be more prepared for their career.”
Karen ong, Language international, USA
“We don’t receive a lot of requests for vocational education, although the number has grown. We believe the main reason is that many vocational schools have had a poor reputation. Especially in Asia where brand matters a lot (for example, in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia), students still see vocational schools as second-rate, offering limited job-specific training instead of a broader more holistic education. The few requests for vocational programmes that we receive come mostly from students in Europe (Germany especially) where vocational schools have had a longer history. Though vocational programmes are popular only in a few countries today, I believe they have the potential to grow over time. This transformation will certainly not happen overnight. But as more and more quality vocational schools get launched, their reputation will improve and demand for them will rise.”
Q&A Advisor association
Giuseppina Foti, President of Italian agent association, Ialca, talks about recent developments.
Full name: Ialca - Italian Association of Language Consultants and Agents
Year established: 1997
Number of members: 25
E: email@example.com W: www.ialca.it
What has been the main focus of IALCA in the last 12 months?
Every year a number of our agents, together with selected journalists, participate in interesting educational trips. In 2011 we visited Canada, sponsored by Languages Canada. Ialca is slowly but constantly growing in terms of members: we now have 25 members, but we have set a target of 30 by the end of 2012. We had two general meetings: one in Catania and one in Torino last year. Every meeting is introduced by a day dedicated to a meeting-seminar open to the public, where we discuss a selected number of items related to studying abroad. Important international guests are invited: we have had the honour to host, among many valuable guests, Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK, and Juan Manuel Elizalde, President of Felca. And, last but not least, Ialca, in cooperation with Felca, is working intensively to produce a draft of a future common contract, between agents and schools, that all the Felca agencies would like to propose to Gaela schools, in order to better regulate business relationships.
Where do you stand on accreditation? Accrediting agencies is vital for our business. The market is becoming more and more competitive and the customers are every day more demanding. These are both to be considered good trends for our sector, but in order to cope with it the agencies must constantly evolve and increase the quality or their services. That is why accreditation, standards and code of conducts are vital.
What are your feelings concerning agent training schemes?
The number of training schemes is rapidly growing. Constant training is absolutely necessary for agents but too many could be negative. It is also important to say that if a training scheme can be organised by a national school association, the accreditation of the agencies is something quite different. From Ialca’s point of view, as the schools’ accreditation is run and certified by the national school association, in the same way an agent’s accreditation must be certified by the agent’s national associations and/or by Felca.
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month International House Nice in France nominates Gloria Tour Tokyo, Japan. William Rubinstein, Director at the school, explains this decision.
“We have been cooperating with Mr Atsuchi Fukumitsu for several years and we appreciate his personal involvement and his genuine interest in his job and in his students’ welfare. He is specialised in the French market and he speaks French fluently. He has personally visited most of the schools he works with. He is therefore able to advise his clients according to their specific requirements. When a problem arises, he always tries to solve it in a way that makes both sides happy. When I visited him a few months ago, he was kind enough to introduce me to a student who was going to attend my school, which was much appreciated by her and me. He knows the Japanese market very well and is always happy to give us good advice to improve our programmes to satisfy his clients. We know that he offers a large number of schools in France so when we welcome one of his clients it is because he has chosen our school for the good reasons.”
“We‘ve known Mr William Rubinstein for over 12 years. He is always very enthusiastic and takes the school work very seriously. We believe IH Nice is one of the best schools in France!”
Atsuchi Fukumitsu, Gloria Tour Tokyo, Japan