This week, Emanuela Marianecci, Marketing Executive & EU Projects Co-ordinator at agency SC Inglese, informs about opportunities for agents and students in the new European Erasmus Plus funding scheme, and presents an interview with two partner internship placement companies regarding the benefits.

Programmes funded by the European Union: a chance to grow your professional career prospects

Erasmus Plus 2014-2020 is the new programme sponsored by the European Commission and offering VET [Vocational Education and Training] learners, students, youths, trainers and staff the chance to train in Europe and worldwide through a series of activities such as traineeships, training sessions, job shadowing and exchange programmes.

Work experience programmes are becoming fundamental for students and for VET learners to gain some hands-on practice and to approach for the first time a real working and professional environment.

A large part of the funding from Erasmus Plus is dedicated to traineeships abroad. These programmes involve students from high schools, university students and VET learners trained at VET schools and institutions.

This new programme has replaced, amongst others, the Leonardo Mobility Programmes, which would allow individuals or groups of students to carry on a work experience in another European country.

A work experience placement has become a fundamental step forward in the life of a student, as nowadays this is highlighted by the changes the language consultancy market is experiencing. In fact, an increasing number of students are deciding to do a work experience after their language classes, whereby this will enhance their CV and their stay abroad whilst allowing the students to practice the language in a real professional context discovering further possible chances of employment in other European countries.

Ireland and Malta are some of the new destinations which are becoming leaders in this new market for professional training paths. We have interviewed Mr Joseph Marquette, Director of our sister company Internships Professionals Ltd and Mr David Walsh, Director of INI Intern-National Ireland Ltd, to share their points of view about these funded programmes and the chances offered to students through a work placement abroad.

1) Regarding your experience with EU-funded project and mobility, what are the advantages for students in taking part to these kinds of programmes?

Joseph, Internships Professionals Ltd:

Through my experience as company director and being hands on personally, the most important is that they are given the opportunity to brush up their knowledge and skills, apart from sharing and acquiring further experiences and new techniques in their profession.

David, INI Intern-National Ireland Ltd:

It gives them a platform like no other, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take their skills and knowledge to another country and enhance their professional and linguistic competences without the complications of an employment search. It offers the benefit of support and guidance throughout the experience and certification, which may benefit their future job prospects. It also enhances their social and cultural awareness.

2) What are the sectors for which you receive more requests for work placements?

Joseph: The most frequented sectors are: accountancy, IT, hospitality and dentistry.

David: General business sectors (HR, marketing, administration, accounts & finance), IT & software development, media and events.

3) What is the average profile of students and what are their professional needs?

Joseph: Students aged 18+. Professional needs will be more hands-on experience, observation and sharing of innovative ideas with others.

David: The average profile lays somewhere between undergraduate and recent graduate level (22-to-28 years), with relatively good English and some sector-relevant experience. Professional needs are as unique as the beneficiaries themselves. Some seek linguistic development; others seek a professional skills experience, which will increase their ability to perform in a real job scenario. So it's important to consider each individual's requirements when operating the programme. Two students with similar profiles may have different expectations/goals, there's no single rule which governs.

4) What are the benefits offered by the new Erasmus Plus?

Joseph: Integration, learning, sharing of new ideas and increased professionalism whilst raising their skills.

David: It's very early to say just yet, but it seems to open more opportunities to students of vocational Study (from our recent experience based on an increased number of vocational students). Previously there were many more PLM (project lifecycle management) projects.

5) What are the requirements in order to be accepted by a company for a work experience programme?

Joseph: The important requirements to be accepted are that they should at least have a good level of communication, a good driving force and mainly good English speaking ability.

David: It varies depending on the sector. However, attitude and motivation play a huge role in determining the development of the experience for the beneficiary. Companies understand it's a learning experience and although many have specific roles for interns, many others will adapt the work to suit the competences of the intern.

6) In your own experience, has a work experience placement ever brought a further cooperation between the student and the hosting company?

Joseph: Definitely. I confirm that some may choose to keep on working with the same host company if asked and accepted. We had host companies approaching us to extend the stay for longer periods as most of our interns where very successful through these EU programmes. We had an occasion of a student last year through the Leonardo Project, who applied for a job with one local audit firm and was employed without any difficulties, whilst most students got a good job as soon as they got back to their own country. These feedbacks fulfil us to sustain our contribution towards these projects. 

David: Absolutely yes. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen to a lucky few who have shown such good motivation and work ethics that the company are left considering if they should take on another intern, or if it's worth their while to retain the services of the current intern, but in the guise of an employment contract. It has also happened that the intern takes on a role, which makes them a supervisor to future interns joining the company. This is the ultimate reward for us – contacting a previous intern to place a new one.

7) Why Malta/Dublin as a destination for an internship? 

Joseph: The Maltese archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Africa. Malta is an English-speaking country with superbly sunny weather, attractive beaches and a thriving nightlife. It also has a 7,000-year, fascinating history that gives anyone a great deal to see and do. Malta has very good economic progress and political stability with competitive labour costs, good life quality, an English-speaking workforce and geographic cultural proximity to all European countries.

David: It's the largest English-speaking city in the Eurozone. With a young and multicultural population, vibrant social scene, and connections to all places of historic and tourist interest in Ireland, as well as connections to approximately 130 other European destinations via Dublin Airport. Multinational Companies with a European customer service base include: Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, PayPal, Apple, Siemens, IBM, DropBox, Air BnB, and it’s a manufacturing base for Intel. It’s one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, with unemployment dropping and more jobs becoming available.

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