New Study on the Impact of European Work Placements on Vocational Learners from Ireland

"It Made Me Hungry for More": Impact on Knowledge, Attitudes, Education, and Career Paths

We are delighted to publish our study on the impact of European work placements on the skills, attitudes, education and career paths of Vocational Learners from Ireland.

Based on surveys, interviews and focus groups with more than 350 vocational and further education learners who completed European work experience between 2007 and 2018, the study explores the longer-term impact of European work placements. This National Report is part of a wider European project that compares experiences and impact across ten different countries, Tracing VET Graduates With Foreign Mobility Experience (pdf).

Among the key findings of the national report are:

    • 92% of participants reported a positive or highly positive experience
    • More than 75% said their placement had developed or improved their communication and team-working skills, and their ability to work in an international environment
    •  64% learned elements of their profession they could not otherwise learn in school or college
    • More than 65% agreed that work experience had a real impact on their future career development
    • 55% agreed that their placements had positively influenced the grades they received in their
      vocational training
    • Finally, almost two thirds agreed that their participation had helped them get a job.

Lorraine Gilligan, our Executive Director, said: “The Erasmus+ programme offers a unique, life-changing opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to explore Europe through exchange and peer-to-peer learning, and we’re delighted to see the experiences of vocational learners highlighted in this report.”

Author of the report and Léargas Communications Manger Charis Hughes said “European work placements have had a profound impact on vocational learners from Ireland. For many, it is their first experience of living and working away from home and offers them a vital taste of independence. These placements enable learners to ‘road test’ their vocational area, and either confirm or change their choice at an early stage of their career. European placements make learners more culturally aware and more willing to live and work in other countries. In fact, many respondents reported how this first-hand experience of being ‘alien’ in a different country, culture or work environment also helped to increase their empathy towards those in similar situations at home in Ireland.

The Further Education sector in Ireland is extremely diverse, involving people of all age and backgrounds. This European Union funding and support, combined with the support vocational learners received from their sending organisations, opens up European opportunities to many who may never have otherwise had them.”

As one learner who took part in the survey put it, “As I am a mature student of 50 plus, I would never have had the opportunity to go otherwise. I loved it. [It] gave me great confidence. Should I have that opportunity again, I would gladly take it.”

Download the full report from our Resources section and contact Charis Hughes with any queries.

Tracing the Impact of European Work Placements on Vocational Learners from Ireland (2021)