Europe Day was celebrated on 9th May by all member states of the European Union and by Apprentis d’Auteuil, who have been developing many European projects and partnerships for over 20 years. Commentary.
What does Europe mean for Apprentis d’Auteuil?
Apprentis d’Auteuil CEO Nicolas Truelle: "We see Europe as an opportunity for mobility and cultural enrichment. For the founding fathers, it was a guarantee of peace, mutual understanding and openness. These are all values that we at Apprentis d’Auteuil share as they are in keeping with our educational principles. For the Foundation, making the youngsters we support aware of the wider world is, in fact, a very important educational dimension. It gives them more self-confidence and enables them to learn about other cultures and other ways of thinking and living. This opportunity should not be the reserve of only a few young people, on the contrary, it should be open to everyone. For over 20 years, young people supported by Apprentis d’Auteuil have been taking part in European programmes.
For the Foundation, Europe is also the will to set up youth development policies, especially for those struggling to integrate who neither work nor attend full-time education. With funding from bodies such as the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Initiative for Youth Employment (YEI) Apprentis d’Auteuil has set up nine projects. The first such project, Oasis, launched in 2015 by the Saint-Louis Continuing Education Centre, aims to re-engage young people. Young people can also register for European student mobility programmes."
What are they?
Pascale Lemaire-Toquec, International & Planning Director at Apprentis d’Auteuil: "Europe gives us the opportunity to arrange work placements for young people through the Erasmus+ Education and Training Programme and youth exchange projects through the Erasmus+ Youth and Sport programme. These programmes are primarily a chance to meet other cultures, an opportunity they would never have otherwise. They discover what Europe is all about in a very practical way through being in a country, meeting the people who live there and learning about their lifestyles and ways of working. For example, young people studying for their vocational qualifications in hotel and catering can experience what it’s like working in a restaurant in Spain in a kitchen where techniques are different from their own. It’s worth mentioning that Erasmus+ also offers mobility programmes for Apprentis d’Auteuil employees."
From what age can a student benefit from these programmes?
P L-T: "Professional work placements are open to students from the beginning of their training, from 15 years of age. The placements can involve any area: horticulture, hotel & catering, building, carpentry and horse grooming. Jobs in hotel & catering are particularly well shared out. Cultural exchanges are available for children attending middle school. They promote European citizenship and bring people closer together. Every year, more than 400 young people from Apprentis d’Auteuil benefit from all Erasmus+ projects."
Is the language barrier a stumbling block?
P L-T: "Yes and no. It’s not easy, particularly for vocational work placements, to carry out your trade in a language you’re not familiar with. But the language issue for Apprentis d’Auteuil youngsters, like so many young people, is related to motivation. It’s often the case that having been in a difficult situation makes them understand the value of learning the language. For many young people, this European exchange is their first trip abroad, with all the freedom, experiences and surprises that entails. This gives them the ability to move around later on in their careers. If you can do it once, you can do it again!"
Do these exchanges involve numerous partnerships?
P L-T: "We have around 130 partners in almost every country in the European Union, with stakeholders doing mostly the same job as us. Among our partners are, for example: Luovi in Finland, CJD (Christliches Jugenddorfwerk Deutschlands) in Germany, the National Centre for Salesian Work in Italy and CLC Building Futures in the UK. Many exchanges are also arranged just between vocational schools. For institutions, this requires a real investment.
As regards funding, we mainly work with the Erasmus+ agency for young people. For other types of projects, we organise strategic European partnerships that benefit from support from the FSE or the IEJ. This was the case for Ouvre-Boîte in Marseille, an incubator for young entrepreneurs that we will now try to duplicate in France and in other countries."
Why is Apprentis d’Auteuil present in European networks such as Eurochild?
P L-T: "We want to give young people a voice at European level, helping them reach a wider audience. Apprentis d’Auteuil has signed up for this in European networks such as Eurochild, Europe’s biggest network for children’s rights. In addition, we are a founder member of the Educ-Europe network, whose aim is to develop European training programmes for social educators. This network has been regularly funded by Europe since its inception. Networking is a key issue, either by getting involved with existing programmes such as Eurochid, or by initiating forms of networking such as Educ-Europe or Alliance, a project we are working on that brings together some of our historical partners (1), including some European stakeholders. The aim is to jointly improve our practices, advance them and innovate together for the benefit of young people and vulnerable families, wherever they live.
For Apprentis d’Auteuil, Europe is also the opportunity to develop our partnerships and our expertise together, to help young people more effectively."
(1) CJD in Germany, Luovi in Finland, CNOS FAP and SCS CNOS in Italy, REJEER in DRC, l’Heure Joyeuse in Morocco, FQOCF in Canada
Europe and Apprentis d’Auteuil, is:
- 80 European projects per year
- 130 partners
- 472 young people benefitting from student mobility in 2015