The ability to travel and study across Europe is something young people from all EU member states should take for granted. However, when Presiyan Ivaylov Shahanov travelled from his home in Ruse, in northern Bulgaria, to Valencia in Spain during the Covid-19 pandemic in October 2020, such travel was a long way from the norm.
Presiyan was taking part in an Erasmus+ programme organised by his VET school in Ruse, in cooperation with ESMOVIA, a Spanish mobility organisation, providing education and training programmes for participants from all over Europe.
"The project in Spain offered me a way to travel abroad, explore the lifestyle of an entirely different country, and gain experience in the workplace, where I used my previously acquired skills and gained a few new ones," says Presiyan.
Presiyan was assigned a role at a small computer maintenance company called APP Patraix.
“While I was with the company, I had the opportunity to work on various technical problems,” says Presiyan. “The company really surprised me with its warm-hearted team of professionals. Their guidance allowed me to grow professionally as well as personally.”
But it was not just the work experience that Presiyan benefited from.
“I had a blast in Spain,” says Presiyan. "Everything from the accommodation to the cultural activities, and everything in between, was well thought out by the organisation."
Presiyan is now back home in Bulgaria, studying as a 19-year-old freshman majoring in computer science at St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tranovo. He has also successfully landed a part-time job as a computer technician, which supports his curriculum and allows him to keep in touch with his passion for computer hardware.
Come together to celebrate Vocational Education and Training
Presiyan’s story will be celebrated alongside many others at this year’s European Vocational Skills Week (EVSW), which takes place from 16 to 20 May 2022. The Week will also highlight innovative projects like ESMOVIA and their work to help young people travel across Europe, build friendships, and develop fundamental skills that lead to careers through enhanced Vocational Education and Training.
The theme of this year's EVSW is ‘VET and the Green Transition’, in line with the European Commission's vision of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Developing soft and hard skills
While Presiyan visited Valencia as part of a small group of 20 students, he was actually part of a much bigger programme.
ESMOVIA has committed to hosting 1,500 apprentices in Valencia between October 2020 and December 2022.
Highlighting ESMOVIA’s work with young people, the organisation’s director, Maria Angeles Ruis Gámez, explains that they receive participants from 29 countries.
“The countries we receive most participants from are Italy, Poland, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Germany,” says Maria. “We also have some from third countries associated with the Erasmus programme, like Turkey and Serbia.”
The young people on the internship programme typically stay in Valencia for four weeks. However, with the launch of ErasmusPro, more extended stays (from 90 to 365 days) are becoming increasingly popular.
“ESMOVIA works with host companies to create work-based learning experiences,” says Maria. “At the end of the programme, they will acquire the soft and hard skills that will definitely help them grow as European citizens and improve their value on the labour market.”
Digital and green skills
ESMOVIA has placed digital and green skills at the centre of its work.
“We created the ESMOVIA club to organise activities aimed at discovering the city, having fun and meeting people from other countries and cultures,” says Maria.
One of these activities is a robotics project where young people from different countries collaborate in building a robot to participate in a “sumo-bot” competition.
“This session is open to all our participants regardless of their specialisation,” says Maria. “In this way, students from the marketing or culinary arts sector can get familiar with some basic coding and robotics in a fun way.”
ESMOVIA also collaborates with a local NGO and regularly organises volunteering sessions for cleaning the beach and adjoining sand dunes.
Find out more
The work that ESMOVIA does highlights the opportunities to travel, study and work across Europe, while equipping young people with the vocational education and training and the cultural insight they need to equip themselves with the skills for today's rapidly evolving job market.
To learn more about how ESMOVIA is helping young people across Europe travel to and study in Valencia, Spain, visit the company’s profile on the European Commission’s website.
This article was published in Modern Diplomacy, in Bulgaria’s economy.bg and karieri.bg as well as Spain’s eleconomista.es and globedia.com