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First vocational experiences in Europe
Date du début: 1 juil. 2014, Date de fin: 30 juin 2016 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

The Vocational College Herzogenrath with the certificate “Europaschule“ is located in the Euregio Maas-Rhine region, which has five partner regions in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and includes the three languages Dutch, French and German. As our college is only about 3 km away from the Dutch border, the focus of our school programme has always been on internationalisation. Our aim is not only to prepare students to be able to live and work in the Euregio region, but also to pave their way for an increasingly global job market. Preparing them for the job market, however, is not our only goal. With the work placements we want to give them the chance to gain positive experiences with people from other countries and cultures. In our opinion, an understanding between people from different nations can grow best if people actually meet. Also, having yourself experienced what it is like to be a “foreigner” in another country, will help you approach people without prejudices in future. The project “First vocational experiences in Europe” is based on these considerations. The project aims at two target groups. On the one hand there is a group of 152 students from the full-time initial vocational training and on the other hand there are 18 trainees from the dual system (taught at college for 1 ½ days and at a company for 3 ½ days). In the next two years 140 of the participants of the full-time initial training at our college will take part in the additional vocational qualification “euregio competence”. In 2004 this additional vocational qualification has been developed together with the 5 partner regions in the Euregio Maas - Rhine region and has been offered to the students with great success. It consists of 4 competencies: language competence (the students choose either French or Dutch as a second language), information competence (course: Living and working in the Euregio Maas- Rhine region), intercultural competences (one focus of the language courses) and a work experience in the region, the students are learning the language of. If the students have successfully passed all the segments and successfully passed an additional language test they will be rewarded with the Euregio competence certificate, which is accepted in all partner regions. The other 12 students of the full-time vocational college will do their work placements in England, Spain or France apart from the above mentioned additional qualification. Furthermore there will be 18 participants from the dual system (trainees). They will do work placements in England. All these activities are aiming at consolidating and extending their language skills, at acquiring a larger intercultural competence, as well as getting insights into the world of work and the social structure of their host countries. The work placements of our college in the Euregio region will be organized by our school. We will find accommodation for the students. Our partners in Belgium and the Netherlands will help us find work placements and together with the students we will choose the most suitable for them. We will also take care of the students during their work placements. Our colleagues will meet the students during their time abroad. Usually at the end of their work placements they will see them in their companies. Apart from that they can be reached by email or telephone any time. The vicinity of the work placements and the commitment of the teachers involved have enabled us to take good care of the students so far. To implement and supervise the work experience in countries which are further away needs more support by our local partners. They provide vacancies for work placements, accommodation and are contact persons for the students and companies. The teachers involved in the project at our school are in contact with the students via email or telephone in the same way as described above with the other projects. If time permits they will also visit the students. Our long-term experience with the Euregio competence work placements has shown us that the participants feel more at home in the foreign languages after their time abroad and they are more ready to use their language skills. First and foremost we have seen more self-confidence as they have coped with the demands of their work experience on their own. For many of them it is the first time that they have to organize their daily routine by themselves and in foreign surroundings. After successfully coping with this they are rightfully proud of themselves. They have gained this experience for their future and this effect we can immediately notice at our school. When the students are coming back from their work experience and are talking about their experiences they are the best advertisements for the project. This is what we have noticed in our ten years of experience with the Euregio competence. We are confident that the same effect will show with the other participants as well.



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