Tatiana Soler - VET trainer and mobility project manager at the Joan Brossa VET School in Barcelona, Segundo González - Technical advisor at the Unit for Projects and Programmes for the promotion of VET – Ministry of Education – Government of Catalonia. andAmong the myriad of European projects, some stand out as being especially successful in attaining the much looked for sustainability. This is the case of COMINTER and RECOMFOR which were at the heart of the NETINVET network of VET providers in the fi elds of international trade and transport and logistics. Both the regional Ministry of Education of the Government of Catalonia and the French Ministry of Education had been partners in the RECOMFOR project that, among other things, compared the curricula in both countries in the international trade sector. The Institut Joan Brossa, a public VET school from Barcelona, and the Lycée Ozenne from Toulouse were involved in the technical parts of the project.
Perhaps it was not too surprisingly that in this fi eld of study both systems were highly compatible and shared almost identical units related to some of the professional competences. This realisation, as part of the project, led to the development of exchange opportunities for learners as part of a recognised classroom-based mobility initiative. Several of the essential building blocks for mobility were already in place such as the necessary mutual trust between the competent institutions, the deep knowledge of the other partner organisation as a result of their close collaboration on the project, and agreement on the methodology to be used for the exchange - ECVET - which had been at the centre of the project.
Alongside establishing the learner exchange, the partnership had been trying to fi nd ways to ensure the sustainability of the activities – their solution was the creation of a network which would lead to several benefi ts for its members. Each partner would benefi t from an easier way to fi nd reliable organisation willing to be involved in mobility, a quality approach, common units which could be used for mobility, a the common use of the ECVET tools.
NETINVET began in 2010 and two of its members (the Institut Joan Brossa and the Lycée Ozenne) were determined to capitalise on the existing progress and take the relationship to the next level i.e. the exchange of international trade students for extended periods of time (three months) through a classroombased recognised mobility project. This would also signifi cantly improve the students’ language skills. Even though each partner had the advantage of involvement in the previous work and was very experienced in organising mobility project, a lot remained to be done. Two trainers from the partner organisations, Tatiana Soler and Nathalie Brahimi, became very involved in all aspects of the work such as comparing training methods, planning schedules, working on the assessment procedures, getting all the logistics ready and securing funds for the activity. But when they were asked about their experiences, they highlight different things such as the need for an ECVET-friendly framework.
NETINVET avoided the need of a Memorandum of Understanding by each member of the network signing the membership agreement. This agreement was also validated by the competent bodies involved in the RECOMFOR project. And although it is the training providers who are members of the network, the competent bodies are kept informed of the activities and of the quality standards that are being applied. The network was also able to use an existing learning agreement and transcript of record - each of these was fundamental to the validation and recognition of the learners’ experiences. However documentation is of little use by itself. Our trainers identifi ed five secrets which lead to a successful mobility experience - the fi rst and most important of which would be the need to develop a strong mutual trust between the partners.
The work of Ms Brahimi and Ms Soler was remarkable, but as they themselves stress no battle is won by a one-man army. Their second secret of success is the need to develop teamwork in their respective schools – there is a need to gain support from other colleagues at all levels in each organisation.
Their third secret is the commitment of colleagues and the management team in each school. This is needed at many levels as many changes could be needed e.g. rearranging the timetable, or follow-up activities so that students who are abroad can keep up with the development of their course at home, or the creation of additional exercises which relate to the units that are not offered at the host school. One example of this commitment can be seen by the change to the teaching language: Spanish was used in Barcelona while the French trainees were there (usually Catalan is the teaching language) and French was used in Toulouse.
The fourth secret is all about constant communication at all levels – between project coordinators and between coordinators and students. In addition establishing a student-to-student tutoring system helps young learners to adapt and feel integrated into their new environment. And last but not least, the fi fth secret is the importance of selecting the right participants. Unmotivated students will not be able to take advantage of the opportunity compared with those who have a good predisposition from the start. See ECVET MAGAZINE - Issue 15 (2013).