A group of 20 apprentices from the Black Country are gearing up to work in Ireland as part of a cultural exchange.
Training experts BCTG, based in Oldbury, are taking the apprentices on a two-week work experience programme to businesses in Cork next month.
And to give them a taste of what to expect the apprentices met Ireland’s First Secretary in London, Jane Connelly, when they visited the Irish Centre in Digbeth, Birmingham, this week, to learn more about the Emerald Isle.
Among the group looking forward to the experience are Shannon Collins, 21, from Wordsley, who is on a retail apprenticeship and 19-year-old Ryan Taylor, who is on an administration apprenticeship with Wolverhampton Community Safety Partnership.
Ryan Taylor, from Wolverhampton, said: “It was very useful going along to the Irish Centre and meeting the First Secretary. It made me realise a lot more about the Ireland’s culture and was good preparation for this trip.
“Because I work in community safety I hope my placement on the exchange will be at a police station.”
Bosses at BCTG secured funding through the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme, which encourages work-related training abroad, to run the work-related trip.
The EU programme funds practical projects in the field of vocational education and enables young people to train in another country in their chosen sector.
Chris Luty, BCTG managing director, said: “This is the first time we have organised a work-related trip like this for apprentices who are with our training providers.
“The aim of the programme is to exchange best practices, increase expertise and make vocational education more attractive to young people.
“We are trialling the programme and taking a group of young people, many of whom have never been out of the country before, to work placements in Ireland.”
Most of the apprentices chosen to go on the trip are working in, administration, childcare and retail and will work in related businesses in Cork as part of the exchange which runs from February 17 to March 2.
Chris Luty said: “We are confident it will prove successful both to the apprentices and to their respective employers and will be a very useful element in their apprenticeship training.”
And he added that plans were already in the pipeline next year to take a group of Black Country engineering apprentices to businesses in Germany if the company was successful in securing funding.