A Sedgley waitress is going back to her Irish family roots after serving an apprenticeship, which landed her on a cultural exchange programme.
Shannon Collins who works at the Penney Farthing Café is among a group of 20 apprentices who are visiting Ireland as part of a two-week work experience programme.
And as part of the programme Shannon has linked up with Pat Wright, Cultural Enablement officer for Irish in Birmingham to find out more about the country her grandparents came from.
Shannon, a former Kingswinford School pupil, said: “My grandmother came over to Birmingham to work as part of the war effort, since then none of our family has properly been back so this trip will not only give me valuable work experience but also take me back to my family roots.
“The whole group has been meeting Pat for the past few weeks on a regular basis to find out more about Ireland which has been really interesting and for me personally the trip has unearthed lots of family history too.”
Pat Wright added: “It is one thing visiting a country as a tourist but it’s something else when you go and actually work there, so I have been working with the apprentices and encouraging them to find out more about the Irish way of life.”
Training experts BCTG, based in Oldbury, are taking the apprentices on the programme to businesses in Cork.
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.
It is the first trip of its kind for BCTG and aims to boost the apprentices’ experience, improve their CVs and help make vocational education more attractive to young people.
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.
Plans are 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.