Erasmus+ VET in the COVID-19 era – Long Live Erasmus+!

2020 was a really challenging year for everyone. The same goes for Erasmus+ programme and the activities related to it. However, Erasmus+ VET proved resilience, which stems from the quality and the value that offers to VET students, their schools and, in fact, the society overall.

Organising Erasmus+ VET mobilities during 2020 was difficult and uncertainty always larked around; it also required a lot of flexibility, demanding swift and ‘out of the box’ actions. However, it proved that, even at the hardest and most challenging of times, everything is possible; ‘if there is a will there is a way’…

During year 2020 ShipCon had the honour to host Erasmus+ VET students and staff (Job Shadowing & staff training) from Lithuania, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Finland, Poland, Portugal, in the fields of Multimedia, Culinary, Childcare, Finance, Special Educational needs, IT, and helped them to experience the adventure of a lifetime – gain new skills and knowledge, make new friends and explore beautiful sightseeing of cultural heritage.

We would like to look back on this challenging but ultimately rewarding 2020 journey and share with everyone the experiences of our Erasmus+ VET participants; a tribute to the strength and resilience of one of the most important – if not the most important – EU programmes, the Erasmus+ programme!

Lithuanian VET students of cooking and bartending improve their professional skills in Cyprus

Throughout summer of 2020 ShipCon hosted several groups of cooking and bartending students from VET schools in Lithuania, who had the opportunity to gain valuable practical experience in cafes/bars and restaurants. These Erasmus+ motilities were very beneficial for the students at personal and professional levels alike. Despite the travel restrictions and uncertainty until the last moment before the commencement of mobility, we made it possible thanks to the effective collaboration between the coordinators (sending & host) and working placements.

Italian VET students of tourism “sail away” along Cyprus coast

July and September brought a real summer feeling in Cyprus as well as opportunity for Italian students from Brescia studying tourism, to literally “sail away” during their Erasmus+ traineeship in Limassol, Cyprus, working on tourism boats and yachts sailing around the coastline of Cyprus.

Mediterranean cuisine adventure with vocational teachers from Serbia

Relationship between food & Culture, Greek & Cypriot kitchen – east & west influences and Roads of wine where the main themes which allowed vocational educators from Sombor, Serbia, to be a part of the magical culinary adventure in Cyprus during their Erasmus+ mobility in October of 2020. We were very grateful that this mobility could finally happen after more than half a year of trying due to the cancelled flights and border restrictions. This mobility proved us that not giving up bring success sooner or later.

Vocational teachers from Germany discovers child and elderly care system in Cyprus

Despite existing restrictive measures already in place back in November 2020, educators from Germany made most out of their Job shadowing experience with ShipCon in Cyprus. The main themes of the mobility covered Educational system in Cyprus, visiting kindergartens and elderly homes in the country and exchanging with best practices. Educators reflected on the mobility as a great experience which they will take back to Germany and try to implement in their school programs.

During the last year we faced many challenges; many events and meetings were switched online and without a doubt, technology helped us to stay in touch, even remotely. At ShipCon, we strongly believe that Erasmus+ strength and importance stems from the social interaction, physical contact and senses stimulated from new places, people and exciting face to face discussions. And ‘online’ can only be a ‘supplement’ and not a ‘substitute’, when it comes to education, formal or informal.