The value of a Traineeship abroad: the results of STORY Project
Usually when we speak about Erasmus our thoughts go immediately to classrooms and lessons, but Erasmus programme include also a more practical dimension: the mobility for cross-border traineeships. The project “STORY: Strengthening the Training Opportunities for International Youth” was designed by the Erasmus Student Network with the aim to explore also this aspect and to have a more comprehensive view on the impact of international mobility. The presentation of the outcomes of this one year research study founded by European Union to measure the accessibility and the quality of international mobility for students took place at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels the 12th September 2014.
During the final conference of the project Runa Vidgis Gudmarsdottir, representative of the Erasmus Unit in the DG Education and Culture who presented the results of the “Erasmus Impact Study” which confirms that a period of study or training abroad improve both student's soft skills and their career prospects since an international experience is considered valuable for the 64% of employers. Stefan Jahnke, President of ESN, followed her path emphasizing the benefits of international experiences which might be a key priority to improve youth employability. The testimonial of Dominique Montagnese, Vice-President of ESN, who attended a traineeship in Italy thanks to an Erasmus programme, shown us a real example of how this experience helped him to develop his soft and hard skills. Daphne Scherer, also from the Erasmus Unit in the DG Education and Culture, presented the new Erasmus+ programme active from 2014 showing the innovations and the improvements compared to the previous mobility programmes is offering to students interested in an international internship. Guest of honour Doris Pack, former MEP and chair of the CULT Committee, shared her personal experience in supporting and promoting student mobility and some perception on the development of Erasmus+.
FinallyMargarida Carvalho, the project coordinator, guided us through the “STORY Project” phases: the research team drafted four different questionnaires for each target group (students, Higher Education Institutions, National Agencies and receiving organisations or companies), these where later disseminated for a period of 3 months and the results collected compose the report presented at the conference. It is not only the analysis of the accessibility and quality of Erasmus training programmes, but investigate also the obstacles, especially those concerning the recognition and economical, observed by the main actors involved.
To offer an immediate answer to the problems detected ESN presented a list of recommendations addressed to the different stakeholders involved to improve trainees experience and a short student guidebook explaining rights and duties that expected Erasmus student to help them to get a full academic recognition of the study abroad.
The conference has also been the opportunity to launch the platform erasmusintern.org, a place “where traineeships and trainees meet”. As emerged during the debate involving Allan Pall, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum and Pierre-Julien Bosser, co-founder of “InternsGoPro", the quality of the internships is essential to offer to the students a valuable experience that could actually ease their insertion into the job market. Such a platform will facilitate the access to international opportunities and support the most optimal and beneficial for both matches between receiving organisations and potential trainees.