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INTERVIEWS
Androulla Vassiliou

"I encourage European enterprises to work with Leonardo da Vinci and Erasmus trainees"

Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Interview with Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
Redacción 17/4/2013 Send to a friend
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 Why is there a need for action to promote these placements? Why is it an important part of the EC’s 
agenda?
Leonardo da Vinci placements, which target vocational students, and Erasmus placements, which 
are intended for university students, are one of the success stories of the EU’s education and training 
programme. This year, around 130 000 students will get a grant to experience a work placement abroad as 
part of their education and training course. This real life workplace experience and the skills that come with 
it are crucial for a successful first step onto the labour market after graduation. But many organisations are not aware about the possibility to host these trainees. The goal of the campaign is to close the “awareness gap” and help potential host organisations to find out more about why and how to work with Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci trainees. This campaign is part of the Commission’s “Youth opportunities” initiative to help young people develop the skills needed by the labour market – a win-win situation for both the young people and employers.
 
What benefits do companies and other employers get from working with these trainees?
The benefits are both short- and long-term. In the short-term, European trainees bring new skills and fresh 
perspectives to the workplace. Their language knowledge and insights into their home markets can open 
doors to future business opportunities. Hosting a trainee is of course a good opportunity to “road test” a 
potential future employee! In the longer term, hosting trainees from one or more partner education and 
training organisations can also be a good way to cooperate on curriculum content and teaching methods, 
helping ensure that young graduates have the skills needed in the workplace.
 
What are the qualities and skills that you view as most useful for today’s students for their future careers in the competitive globalised world?
There is no doubt that in today’s labour market, specific vocational and professional skills are only part of 
the picture. Ensuring that these are delivered at a level of excellence is a priority for Europe. But equally  important are the so-called “softer” transferable skills, which each of us needs throughout our working life. A sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, adaptability, teamworking andstrong communication skills – these can make the difference both for young people searching for a first job and for employers striving to remain competitive.
Undertaking a work placement abroad is a great opportunity to develop these very skills. 86% of Leonardo da Vinci trainees reported that their placements had been positive for their employability, for example.

The reality of the single European market varies from country to country. Some countries are searching for qualified employees; in others the unemployment rate of young people is higher than ever. How do you see the campaign in this context?
The situation you mention is a clear illustration of the so-called “skills gap”. At this time of high
unemployment, many vacancies nevertheless remain unfilled as employers struggle to find recruits with the
skills they need. This campaign can help on several fronts. By helping to develop young people’s skills, a
better qualified pool of labour will be available. Connections across borders, both between individuals and between companies and education and training organisations, make it easier for graduates to make the
most of the single European labour market. And by encouraging closer cooperation between the world of
work and that of education and training, curricula and teaching methods become more relevant to labour
market needs.

As an HR manager, where can I find more information about European placements and their benefits?

The campaign website should be your first stop. There you can find information for download. This includes
FAQ, testimonials from companies and indications of which bodies can help you make connections to
education and training providers and their potential trainees.

What is your message for European enterprises?
I would strongly encourage European enterprises and other employers to grasp the opportunity to work with
Leonardo da Vinci and Erasmus trainees. This type of placement really can be a win-w

 

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