Erasmus+ SCHOOL AS A LAUNCH PAD OF YOUR CAREER
Type: School Exchange Partnerships, 2018-1-EE01-KA229-047-116_1
Project dates: September 2018 – August 2020 – February 2021
Narva Pähklimäe Gümnaasium, Estonia – coordinator
Şehit Yurdakul Alcan Ortaokulu, Turkey
Escola Secundária/3 de Barcelinhos, Portugal
Gimnazija Brezice, Slovenia
Partner organisations formed a strategic partnership to share experiences related to facilitating the development of students employability competence development and their entry into the labour market. All partners want to respond to the challenges of the labour market and prevent students' unemployment. The project is designed to help the participants to connect their interests and abilities with a profession they want to choose in the future. The participants of the project will obtain both theoretical and practical skills in the field of professional and career development. As a result of implementation of this project the students will have an individual portfolio which will serve as a starting point in the development of their employability competence and some other important for employment skills such as writing a CV, having an interview, working in a team, planning and realization of goals, time-management and financial competence. The activities will take place in the form of 4 topical units and 4 meetings in the different countries: The topical Units will cover the following topics:
- Uncover yourself
- Practice makes perfect
The students will analyse the situation in their country labour market regarding the most demanded professions. Moreover, meetings with representatives of different professions will become a part of the training. Besides, the portfolio can be later used as an example of the accumulated experience and personal growth for other students wishing to complete the course. 4 meetings will take place in 4 different participant countries. Each partner country has an expertise area in which they are better than other countries participating in the project. The meetings in different countries will give the participants the opportunity to explore the situation in each separate country, to get the experience of a particular school and to participate in the events only available in a specific environment of every country and school. These meeting will also foster such important skills nowadays as employability and socio-educational and personal development, as well as participation in civic and social life. It will also develop partnerships between learning institutions, will give the participants different views on lifelong learning and will improve the quality and effectiveness of learning mobility experiences.
1st International meeting – Narva, Estonia (9th December to 15th December 2018)
Stage "Uncover yourself" consisted of psychological and career-oriented testing of all the students taking part in the project. Moreover, the study of the labor market of all participant countries was done to get acquainted with the possible job opportunities for teenagers and young adults. The main expertise areas for Estonia to represent were Tourism and Information Technology. Additionally, the cultural topics covered during the meeting were education, national cuisine and dances.
8 students and 2 teachers from each partner school + all the 10-graders of the host country (approx. 50 + 9 teachers). As the Estonian team included all the students of the 10th so all the students with social obstacles took part in the meetings being included in the groups where they had someone to back them up. Economical obstacles were not an issue for the Estonian team at that time, as there was no need for the participants to pay for anything. Participants with economic obstacles from partner countries were equally supported by the project funds of their countries.
The four groups learnt about the way the educational systems in each country are organized and found out some differences in teaching approaches and methods. There was opportunity to observe differences in the way teachers and students interact with each other.
Despite the differences in age and cultural backgrounds, the participants were able to share a common language and a common ground. It was interesting to see how pupils and teachers from four countries were able to communicate and interact so easily.
As the theme of the project is “School as a launch-pad for your career”, the groups observed that there are common practices to promote career orientation in the four schools, such as contact/visits to universities, employment agencies, attendance/organization of job fairs, talks, etc. It was also observed that there is some career counselling done in the schools through the school psychologist or counsellors.
As for the common challenges that are faced by all countries (both host and participants’) in their effort to implement policies related to the theme of the visit, it was noted that the countries do not have an integrated approach to career orientation within the curriculum for all the students only for the ones who are interested in it so there is need to develop a structure that will work well for all the students.
All the testings and preparations for the meeting were done by all schools’ participants during the lessons of psychology, social studies and citizenship studies and were successfully integrated with the normal activities.
The benefits of this activity:
The participants shared the experiences and got a new knowledge about the topic of career planning, to be more precise, all the students started to create their own portfolios, where during the visit they collected all the materials and test results that covered the first topic "Uncover yourself" to be used later during and after the project.
The policies and practices that can be further explored and possibly transferred are the following: The Estonian team shared their experience within the “Education and Job” course that they offer the upper-secondary students, which is an optional course for those interested in it. Within this framework the practice of “shadowing” was considered very interesting. The students do “job-shadowing” with a professional for a short period of time during the summer holidays and report about their experience and results at the beginning of the next school year. The Slovenian team also shared their experience regarding the “open-day” organized by certain companies and businesses that receive students, and their parents, so that they learn what to expect and what requirements a particular job has; this is done to approach prospective workers.
Stage 4 “Practice makes perfect” (December 20219 – February 2021)
The project has been extended for a period of six months due to the pandemic situation caused by Covid-19. Unfortunately the situation hasn't changed. Therefore, the partner schools decided to make a virtual mobility for this final stage as we are prevented from travelling to Tarsus. So, all the activities were adjusted to this kind of mobility so that all the students could benefit from the exchange and still accomplish the main goals of this project.
The partners decided to organise four days for this virtual mobility - four hours per day.
4th international virtual meeting – Tarsus - Mersin, Turkey (28 January – 2 February)
This stage was focused on time management techniques, such as the Eat the Frog, the Pomodoro, the Eisenhower and the Pareto analysis. A specialist guest presented more information about the importance of fighting procrastination and managing time in order to have a successful career.
This stage also focused on the students observing different jobs - job shadowing - and interviewing workers, and presenting their reports with their conclusions. The students met successful businessmen and professionals and were able to gain insightful information about different jobs and their career path.
This stage enabled students to improve their English and especially their speaking and writing skills in both the preparation phase and the actual mobility. In addition, the students were able to contact with and learn about the native languages of the partners through the presentations focused on the peculiarities of each language. The practical moment of this activity enabled students to pronounce key words in each language. This work was connected to the main topic of our project.
This mobility also had a cultural component despite being conducted online. The students were able to watch and learn about the history, cuisine and architecture of Tarsus and Mersin. They could also learn about different types of craftsmanship and folk dances of Turkey. The Turkish students also exhibited their artistic productions related the project.
The participants involved in this stage were: there were eight students from Estonia and Portugal, and there were nine students from the Turkish and Slovenian teams; there were five Turkish teachers, two from Estonia and two from Slovenia and Portugal as well. The Turkish team had the collaboration of 15 students and seven teachers as a support team and there were seven guests involved in the main virtual activities.
There were several webinars, interviews, short documentary films as well as presentations during this period.
The students were in contact with several professionals and they could get acquainted with their work through the sharing of their business webpages and virtual portfolios.
The students prepared beforehand a list of questions for the interviews of these professionals. The practise of job shadowing was done in the preparation phase. Their results were organised in reports and presentations.
The students did research work on their native languages to present to their partners in order to compare, analyse and learn about each others' languages.
The participants were able to »visit« the main spectacular places in Turkey and experience the local culture through the documentary films and the video produced by the Turkish students.
There were also activities based on group work in Zoom rooms, and using a collaborative tool - Padlet - and the participants answered a Kahoot quiz about the city of Tarsus and the Turkish culture.
Thanks to the Zoom platform, the participants were able to react to the presentation to each others' work by commenting in the chat box and vocally.
The stage was prepared by the coordinators through several virtual meetings and instant communication, such as emails and WhatsApp. The virtual mobility has been conducted flawlessly and with a high level of organisation and commitment by the Turkish team.
During this phase of the project, the students gained more knowledge about different jobs and careers as well as how to become more successful professionally. They became acquainted with different techniques to avoid procrastination and to manage their time more effective and productively in their school life, as well as the future workplace.
The physical constraints of the pandemic have enabled the students to use digital tools more effectively as well as manage their time in a more productive way.
The job shadowing and interviewing enabled students to have a clearer perspective of the world of work, the career path professionals take, and the benefits of each job. They were also able to see if the jobs involved were connected to their personal interests.
The students had the opportunity to find out more about the peculiarities of each native language. They could also get acquainted with the Turkish culture through the showing of documentaries on Turkish folk dances, arts and cuisine, and a workshop on how to make traditional Turkish coffee.
They were able to develop hard skills, social skills as well as language skills. Digital skills as well as communication skills were in focus at this stage as remote digital platforms have been privileged.
In this stage the students summarised their experience and opinions on the development of this project. This sharing of thought was done vocally, through the collaborative tool Padlet, as well as the final videos produced by each team.
Thanks to this project the students have become aware of the fact that choosing a career is a process and not the result of a quick decision. They were able to get from the project the first steps to take in the choosing of their future career.
During this virtual mobility the students benefitted from different experiences and the development of different activities. Online group work enabled the development of communication and collaborative skills.
Students were able to learn on how to manage their time more effectively in order to be more successful not only in their studies but also in their life.
The preparation of this mobility has enabled students to develop their IT and entrepreneurship competences further. They gained experience in organising virtual communication by using different platforms. Soft skills and language skills were developed by making presentations and interviews, improving their public speech; the students gained more knowledge about the topics. Activities allowed students to become more creative.
The contact with people with different professional backgrounds and diverse personal experiences was very enrichening for the participants as this enabled them to be more sensitive to the importance of education and choosing a career that will bring them personal satisfaction in their life.
Although the Covid-19 situation has prevented the partners from travelling to Turkey, the students have revealed a high level of responsibility in accomplishing all the tasks for this final stage of the project. They are truly commendable for their hard work and commitment to the project.