HARVEST: “Holistic Approach to Regional Vocational Sector-based Training” (490 940 EUR), 2006–2008: The project aims to provide a platform for both providers of professional language services and strategic funding partners in the East of England, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria to identify specific skills gaps and plan appropriate training programmes to address these needs. The project is a direct response to overcoming common barriers to international trade as identified within the economic strategies of the partner countries/regions.

The project will build on the experience of the language skills capacity audit conducted in 2003 in the East of England by CILT, the National Centre for Languages, and adapt these templates as a basis for conducting sectoral audits in the food and drink, agriculture and tourism sectors in addition to the industry sector of manufacture of wood products (specific to the Malopolska region). The audits shall target 300 companies in the 4 partner countries across the above-mentioned priority sectors, with the aim of assessing existing language competence, skills gaps, degrees of strategic planning and readiness, and preferred methods of training.

The project shall also develop an interactive road map of provision targeted at meeting the skills gaps identified in the audits, this road map being available in both paper, electronic and web-based format, and shall be a joint development by all 4 main partners. The road map is designed to provide a platform for the long-term engagement of providers of language services with SMEs. It will also provide funding organisations with clear evidence for the targeting of public resource to identified skills gaps.

As a third core activity, the project shall conduct materials testing (pilot training) with a selected number of up to 80 SMEs based across the 4 partner countries. The pilot shall be delivered in 2 stages: (1) a 2-day workshop geared to senior management, focussing on the benefits of training, issues related to training & qualifications, examples of good practice (case studies) and bad practice (poor or misleading translations), and (2) a 12-week language course for company staff. The materials used by the tutors (selected via the road map) shall be developed by academic partners from across all 4 countries, and shall form part of the valorisation activity.

Through its delivery the project shall raise awareness of the importance of effective international communication, language and intercultural competence. The project has the strength that although all participating regions have consistent and similar needs, the partners themselves bring a variety of strengths and target markets, as the project is represented by RDAs, Chambers, Vocational Colleges, strategic bodies and employer federations.

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