Plymouth firms benefit from 14bill-euro work placement scheme

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor

Tellus Team with an EU student delegation.

A 14.7billion-euro European Union-funded programme is paying for foreign students to work in Plymouth – and providing a boost for city companies.

The Erasmus+ programme is also giving those European students valuable  work experience, in addition to enhancing language and other skills.

The seven-year programme, which has an overall 14.7billion-euro budget, is delivered in Plymouth by Mutley Plain-based Tellus Group.

The company is working with 300 Plymouth firms, and another 200 in its other base city of Portsmouth, none of which have to contribute financially.

“They (the companies) come from most sectors,” said Annie Dyson, Tellus’ work placement operations manager. “But the most popular are in admin, IT, hospitality and working as car mechanics.

“And we are now looking to move into areas such as mechatronics and medical engineering. We’re getting lots of requests from students in that sector.”

The students who come to Plymouth can be from across the EU, but, for Tellus, most are from the largest nations: Germany, Poland, Italy, France and Spain.

They can be aged anywhere between 16 and 60. But usually they are in their late teens.

A typical placement lasts about three to four weeks, although older, perhaps graduate, students can take part in longer programmes, sometimes for several months.

Tellus, which has about 1,000 students in Plymouth each year, strives to place the students with companies working in the fields they are interested in.

Each student receives credits towards a recognised qualification under the European Credit System for Vocational Educational Training.

“And they gain in cultural and life experiences,” said Mrs Dyson, who added: “We’re celebrating nearly 100 per cent satisfaction approval ratings from our international students, who go on work placement opportunities with large and small businesses.”

She said a 2013 student survey showed a 93.4 per cent student approval rating, with a 97.5 per cent rating recorded in 2014, and said: “This is testament to the amazing companies in Plymouth who see the benefits of work placement opportunities, and crucially life-changing experiences for many of our students.”

Tellus has been providing educational services since 2003, and through Meridian School of English since 1979.

Neil Pick, chief executive of Tellus Group, said the Erasmus+ programme aims to boost skills and employability, and modernise education, training, and youth work.

And he also stressed: “It’s also about recognising we are all part of one continent, all part of the EU. For me it’s about doing good and making a small investment in a young person’s life can have a big impact – it’s about providing opportunities.”

Mr Pick, whose firm employs about 45 people in Plymouth, said the Erasmus+ programme is also a tool to tackle skills shortages across Europe. And he said it provides a boost in Plymouth too.

“Anything that gives a positive impression of Plymouth is good,” he said. “And also, people that come here for five or six weeks for work spend more than tourists do, because they have a different attitude to life.”

The Erasmus+ programme has seen a 40 per cent budget increase to reflect the EU’s commitment.

Read more:

Publicity generated by Dorcas Media

DORCAS BREAKING NEWS: The Rockhoppas the homecoming, episodes one & two, now on our website