International work placements supported by the Turing Scheme have proved a big success with learners at Harrow, Richmond and Uxbridge Colleges (HRUC).
HRUC has partnered with London-based RiSE International, a specialist in facilitating international educational opportunities, to send 132 students on trips to Canada, Crete, Spain and Portugal in the past two years.
Learners from an array of courses and study areas across HRUC have not only gained valuable work experience but have done so in a different country and a new culture, developing their personal skills and attributes too.
Liam Plumridge, Head of Employability at HRUC, said: “Our learners have really flourished with these amazing opportunities. It has been incredible to witness them blossoming into amazing young adults, getting opportunities they would never get.
See some inspirational locations
“We are giving our young people the opportunity to go to another country, be more independent and learn about a different culture. It is an opportunity for disadvantaged students to leave a deprived area and see some inspirational locations.
“Without the Turing Scheme funding they would never be able to afford to do this.”
Denis Cicu, an electrical installation student, went on a four-week placement to Vancouver in Canada, where he worked with Habitat for Humanity, a non-profitable charity that builds affordable housing and promotes home ownership as a means to break the cycle of poverty.
“It was an amazing experience. I got to help people and make a difference in their lives,” he said. “It was an opportunity to make a positive impact in communities which was incredibly fulfilling. Canada is a stunning country with breathtaking landscapes and natural beauty. It has really and truly expanded my cultural awareness.
“My CV is now filled with these amazing experiences and skills, and I am attracting a lot of interest from employers. My confidence has really been boosted and I find undergoing interviews a lot less stressful as I can now showcase my skills and abilities in a positive manner.”
Business student Ashryl Serrao spent two weeks in Seville, Spain, working at Jetwalk, a company which provides Segway and bike tours around the city.
“My main tasks were assisting on tours, completing bike contracts and communicating with locals and tourists,” she said. “I was also involved with the management of tills and producing marketing content for social media.
It was an amazing experience
“For me, it was an amazing experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life, where I was able to meet many lovely people. It has enhanced a variety of transferable soft skills, including time management, decision-making, and teamworking.
“I wanted an opportunity to see what it’s like working in a different environment within my business course. The desire to meet new people, learn about the culture, see the city and use my secondary school Spanish to its fullest potential also influenced my decision.”
Hair and media make-up student Lara Shwani also spent four weeks in Vancouver, where she stayed at the University of British Columbia while working in the office of Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW).
“My tasks included identifying sponsors, finding contact details of celebs and influencers, finding model agencies, writing invitation templates and managing the socials,” she said. “I found out that building a rapport with your colleagues is just as important as completing the work itself.
“I have gained independence from staying at the University of British Columbia. I got to experience university life which I am grateful for as I did not attend uni and did not want to miss out on the experience.
“Working at VFW taught me the importance of time management and reaching tight deadlines. It has made my CV stand out. After my placement I was invited to work as a backstage coordinator at London Fashion Week.”
Being able to offer learners placements around the world with the support of the Turing Scheme has made HRUC a more attractive option for young people moving into further education.
“Our new students see it as a unique opportunity that the colleges offer,” said Liam. “It has improved the profile of HRUC. We use Turing Scheme examples in our promotional materials all the time.”
Revitalised work placement strategy
Staff who have accompanied learners on their placements have also benefitted and the Turing Scheme opportunities have led to a rethink of HRUC’s approach to work experience.
“It has revitalised what we do,” said Liam. “We have seen our host countries give us these fantastic opportunities for our learners – why can’t we do more in our own country? It has made us rethink the work placement opportunities that we are looking for and offering to our learners locally. It has broadened our perspectives on what is out there.”
Sarah Hitchcock, Co-Director at RiSE International, added: “We have worked collaboratively with the college to design programmes that are responsive to the needs and interests of their learners and we are hugely impressed with the personal impact stories we have seen as a result.”
Find out more about FE/VET funding opportunities with the Turing Scheme