New Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan, praises Erasmus+ programme and the work of organisations across Wales to help young people, trainers and learners benefit from the scheme over its 30 year history.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Erasmus+ and predecessor programmes, a milestone that was celebrated at an event in the Senedd in Cardiff on 13 November.
Since 2014 Wales has benefitted from nearly €30m of funding from the Erasmus+ scheme, according to figures released by the National Agency responsible for delivering the European Union scheme in the UK.
The funds already awarded this year will be shared by 41 Welsh organisations across the education and training sectors. The Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector saw the largest rise in funding in Wales in 2017, with €2.2 being awarded to colleges, up from €1.3m in 2016. Sian Holleran, from ColegauCymru, the body which represents all of the Welsh further education colleges said, “Erasmus+ funding enables ColegauCymru to provide young people of all backgrounds with a springboard to success. The experience of working and living in a different country can be life-changing, opening up new work opportunities, improving employability skills and raising aspirations. A work placement abroad may well be the launch of a new dream which could be realised close to home, in Europe or further afield. Erasmus+ funding also enables us to organise continuous professional development opportunities for staff to take part in overseas study visits that focus on improving quality and provision in Wales through international benchmarking.”
Welcoming the news that €2.6m was also awarded to schools across Wales in 2017, Polly Seton, Advisory Teacher for International School Linking representing Carmarthenshire said, “Erasmus+ and its predecessor programmes help us to support schools in some of the remoter parts of Wales, opening up the world to our pupils and staff and giving them an international outlook. It also provides the opportunity to share good practice, raise standards, challenge stereotypes and to see what’s possible when you connect with peers across Europe.” Due to the work of schools in Wales, the number of school staff estimated to train or job shadow in Europe quadrupled from 61 in 2015, to 269 in 2016.
Jane Racz, newly-appointed Director of the Erasmus+ UK National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK, said “Organisations throughout Wales work extremely hard to ensure that thousands of young people, learners and staff are able to benefit from the scheme and it was fantastic to hear from some of them at the celebratory event in the Senedd. The audience also really enjoyed hearing Sophie Mckeand, Young People’s Laureate for Wales, perform the Erasmus+ poem we commissioned as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations.”
Sophie performed her poem, entitled ‘Sunlight’, which captures the essence of the Erasmus+ programme, of breaking down barriers, exploring new horizons and making connections across Europe and beyond.
With the highest ever amount of funding available to the UK next year, at around €170m, organisations in Wales are encouraged to continue to engage with Erasmus+ to help even more of its young people and educational staff to benefit from an international experience.
An information session on how Welsh organisations can apply for Erasmus+ funding in 2018 is taking place in Cardiff on 21 November. Individuals interested in attending can register on the Erasmus+ website.