Young people studying vocational qualifications across Europe will be able to get experience of living and working in different countries thanks to iMove, a new co-operative mobility project in which the Co-operative College is a partner.
Julie Thorpe, Lead for School Programmes and Digital Learning and Nina Eastwood, Schools Programmes Co-ordinator at the College, together with Schools Co-operative Society Board Member Carl Ward, travelled to Bologna, Italy during half term for a kick-off meeting about the three-year project.
The lead partner in the EU Leonardo-funded project, which aims to create sustainable mobility through public-private partnerships, is Italian co-operative UNISER, which specialises in training and mobility. Other partners include Spains co-operative Mondragon University. iMove will create platforms across Europe bringing together training providers, businesses and local authorities to offer young people who are undertaking vocational training the opportunity of work placements in other countries.
“These mobility experiences make young people more employable and give them a chance to develop language skills. For example, a young person doing a Btec in hairdressing could experience how things are done differently in a salon abroad,” explained Julie Thorpe.
”In today’s labour market young people need to be able to compete at European level and internationally. A work placement in another country develops self-confidence and broader perspective on work opportunities. Trainees also benefit from the experience of travelling, living in a different country for a short while, making friends and seeing how the industry they are training for operates in other parts of the world,” she said.
Each region or country taking part will set up a multi-stakeholder mobility platform, comprising a network of colleges, schools, businesses and local authorities who are interested in providing placements, sending students abroad, promoting mobility and ensuring the quality of the mobility experience. The College is responsible for designing the co-operative structure which will network these platforms and embedding the co-operative values into its work.
“We have some excellent partners in the project,” said Julie, and we are particularly looking forward to a close collaboration with Mondragon University. This is great opportunity to promote co-operative values into the vocational education arena.
The College has already had first-hand experience of European mobility, as it has hosted several young people from Italy and Spain on work placements in the past. The work also feeds into another mobility project the College is currently involved in, European Coop Campus, which is developing learning units for employees of co-operatives who take part in European work placements.
It is hoped that retail co-operatives in the UK who offer apprenticeships and other programmes for young people will also be interested in getting involved.