Polish trainees arrive in Plymouth on European work experience programme
A DOZEN Polish trainees have arrived in Plymouth to learn about the city's culture and work ethic as part of a vocational programme.
Plymouth-based EuroPartnership Agency (EuroPA) is hosting the hospitality and IT trainees, who are on the European-funded Leonardo da Vinci programme.
During the past five years EuroPA has been boosting Plymouth's economy by placing skilled and trainee workers at businesses, from small firms to international companies, at no cost to enterprises involved.
This year more than 600 trainees are looking to make the trip to Plymouth for work experience.
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EuroPA was formed by Polish entrepreneur Gosia Kuklinska in 2007, when she was aged just 26, after she visited the UK on one of the workplace programmes she now helps organise.
"I found my experience beneficial and decided to help others enjoy the benefits of improving their employability and language skills, at the same time as creating a closer cultural and economic connection between the UK and Europe," she said.
"The Leonardo da Vinci programme and other projects in the Lifelong Learning Programme are a wonderful opportunity for people at all stages of their lives to take part in stimulating learning experiences that benefit them and the company or organisation they are with.
"But it is also great for Plymouth and its economy as our European visitors stay with host families.
"And through our excellent links with companies we have enhanced many trainees' employment opportunities and changed lives," Miss Kuklinska said.
The programmes bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and the reality of work.
The Leonardo da Vinci project is one of several Lifelong Learning Programmes and training courses funded by the European Commission that EuroPA specialises in.
Created in 1995, it is open to people in education or training, graduates, and the unemployed, giving them an opportunity to spend between three and nine weeks abroad to improve job skills and knowledge while helping businesses in the host country.
"It's chance for organisations in the vocational training sector to work with partners across Europe, exchanging ideas and best practice, and boost the overall competitiveness of the European job market," said Miss Kuklinska.
"But it's not just the visiting Europeans that benefit. It can help increases the skills of the host businesses' workforce too, and improve performance and profitability."
Last May, Miss Kuklinska successfully bid to drive a 385,269-euro, continent-wide project to equip the most disadvantaged unemployed people with wide-ranging job-seeking skills.
Called INSIGHT (Individualized Training in Acquiring New Skills and Raising Employment Competences) it will establish an innovative and free integrated training tool to boost the employability of jobless groups.