MP visit evidences Erasmus+ impact on vocational learning in Neath Port Talbot

Stephen Kinnock, MP met apprentices from Tata Steel and Hair & Beauty learners from NPTC Group of Colleges to find out about the impact of Erasmus+ vocational education and training (VET) funding on learners and apprentices.

Eleven Tata steel apprentices undertook two-week work placements at one of Tata’s sites in Ijmuiden, Holland in 2018. The engineering, laboratory and research apprentices had the opportunity to work with their peers in Ijmuiden and were able to compare and contrast the processes used by their Dutch colleagues with those they use in Wales. Focussing on added value to operations, the apprentices identified processes that, if implemented in Wales, could improve productivity and efficiency.

On return, Shane Ash, a Higher Mechanical Engineering Apprentice, initiated a discussion with his managers on the use of Drossing Robots based on what he had seen on the visit and was given the go-ahead to plan for their installation.

Shane has also written to local Assembly Members to highlight the benefits of participating in Erasmus+ for him personally & professionally on how having the opportunity to learn from his counterparts overseas has also brought benefits to Tata Steel in Wales.

Shane said “Ultimately projects like the Erasmus + are so important to the future of engineering and manufacturing as a whole. I hope that with the uncertain future ahead of us that apprenticeships and projects such as the Erasmus + are continued for the future population as I cannot express enough how important it is.”

At NPTC Group of Colleges, four Hair & Beauty learners who had undertaken two-week work placements in Girona informed Stephen of how the visit had not only enhanced their knowledge of hydrotherapy and hairdressing techniques but had also had a positive impact on their confidence, self-belief and future aspirations. All four learners are now undertaking Post Graduate Certificates in Education, which they feel, is a direct result of the Erasmus+ experience in Spain and the inspiration of their tutors.

Iestyn Davies and Siân Holleran from ColegauCymru accompanied Stephen Kinnock on the visits. Siân said "ColegauCymru submits annual applications for Erasmus+ funding on behalf of all the FE colleges in Wales. These visits and others are life changing and so far this year 480 learners have undertaken work placements across Europe. We eagerly await confirmation that colleges in Wales can continue to benefit from the Erasmus+ funding of staff and learner mobility opportunities and/or continue to lobby for sufficient funding to support a continuation of overseas work experiences for our FE learners post Brexit."