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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

Tapping into European Talent `Finding and Hosting a Work Placement from Europe: Best Practice Guide for SMEs

This project has been funded with the support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

1. Introduction .................................................................................. 3 2. Placement programmes in Europe .............................................. 6 3. Could hosting a placement benefit your SME? ........................... 9 4. Providing a female-friendly placement environment .................. 12 5. Cultural implications of hosting a placement trainee ................. 16 6. How to choose the trainee that’s right for your SME ................. 18 7. Hosting a placement trainee – before your trainee starts .......... 21 8. Hosting a placement trainee – the first few weeks .................... 24 9. Hosting a placement trainee – support and monitoring ............. 26 10. Hosting a placement trainee – evaluation and follow-up......... 28

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1. Introduction In this handbook you can get practical information on how to find out about hosting a placement trainee in your SME. We’ll take you through each step from advertising and recruitment to managing the placement trainee whilst at your organisation. Get Mobile is a Euroupean initiative involving a group of organisations, is a group of organisations in the UK, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Iceland and Turkey, working together to inspire and encourage greater European mobility of female graduates in BS (Business and science), especially those who are unemployed or under-employed, as well as encouraging more SMEs to host these graduates. Get Mobile works with two main groups: 1. SMEs (especially microbusiness with less than 5 employees) 2. Female graduates in Business, Science and Technology Traditionally, SMEs and microbusinesses are much less likely to make use of the potentially valuable source of innovation and creativity that European female graduates undertaking a placement period could provide. We’re working to change this, showing SMEs the benefits of taking on a placement trainee, and supporting them with the process of recruiting and hosting a placement trainee from abroad. We’re producing 3 key tools to support SMEs in finding out more about hosting a placement trainee and to encourage more SMEs to host a placement trainee from abroad: 1. Best Practice Guide for European SMEs on Finding and Hosting a Work Placement: a Guidebook for SMEs about the process of hosting a placement student from abroad. 2. Business Briefing Workshops: we’ll be holding practical information workshops about how to host a placement trainee from abroad. The workshops will include information regarding selection of trainees, costs involved, the cultural implications, support for the trainee and an introduction to the online Get Connected Zone. 3. Get Connected Zone: an online initiative/platform bringing female graduates and SMEs together from across Europe. SMEs can register to advertise a placement vacancy to the graduate members of the zone. This guidebook is the first of these support tools for SMEs. We aim to provide a basic introduction to finding and hosting a placement, and to de-mystify the process for SMEs. You can also use this handbook as a useful guide to refer to throughout the process of hosting a placement trainee, to make sure you both get the best out of the opportunity. Register on the Get Connected Zone to meet other companies like yourself and share experiences, as well as hearing from companies who’ve hosted a placement before. You can post your placement vacancy and look through potential candidates who might just be the answer to supporting your SME with activities whilst providing an amazing career experience for a recent graduate. 3 www.getmobileproject.eu


Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

Organisations involved in Get Mobile:

Inova Consultancy (UK), www.inovaconsult.com

VHTO ( The Dutch National Expert Organisation on girls/women in science technology in The Netherlands), www.vhto.nl

CLP (Italy), www.clpge.it

The Directorate of Labor (Iceland), www.vinnumalastofnun.is

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KISGEM (Turkey), www.pendikkisgem.tr

MILITOS Emerging Technologies & Services (Greece) www.militos.org

We are funded by the European Commission through the Lifelong Learning Programme.

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2. Placement programmes in Europe

“ My name is Eric Wijmenga and I am the director of

Mobility/Placement programmes in Europe

Intercambio, an educational

Mobility is the term most commonly used by the European Commission to refer to people going abroad from one country to another to work with an organisation for an agreed period of time. Sometimes this is also known as a placement, internship or traineeship. Mobility of people is a key priority for the EU.

agency in Sheffield. We recently hosted our first international graduate in 2011, but we needed a graduate with good language

The European Commission promotes mobility programmes supporting placements (periods designed for training purposes, spent in work environments where trainees are actively involved in work processes) abroad for a number of different beneficiaries (e.g. students, graduates, potential entrepreneurs). Trainees can apply for specific programmes that cover their costs for going on placement abroad in Europe. Placements can take place in any organisation with legal status in Europe. SMEs might also receive applications from individuals who are self-funding their placement and so are not linked with any EC programme.

What does a mobility placement involve? Depending on which funding programme the trainee accesses, placement periods can range from between 1 month and 12 months (length is defined before departure) in an organisation in any of the 27 member states as well as in Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Tasks to be performed by the trainees during their placement period vary according to their education and experience as well as the host organisation’s requirements. You can outline what particular skills and activities you are looking for from a placement trainee. All this data and information is part of a "Training Agreement" prepared between the trainee and your organisation so that expectations are clear for both sides before the placement trainee arrives. Placement trainees do need sufficient support and management during their placement period as it is often their first experience of work. As an SME, this may be one of your main concerns, in terms of the time and resources this takes. This guide aims to help you through the process so that it can be as smooth a process as possible and that the benefits from having a placement will outweigh any time or resources spent in the long run.

skills to help us process enquires from overseas clients and deal with administration. The main requirements were flexibility and interest toward the business sector as well as the role which had been newly created in the organization. The experience was extremely positive and we were very impressed with how the graduate helped us deliver our services and developed into a very strong all-around member of the team. Hosting a European graduate made a huge difference in the day to day running of our business and I would recommend this experience to other SMEs as well. I also learned a great deal about myself and my management skills and responsibilities, making this a mutually beneficial learning experience�.

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Funding For you as a small business (and any other organisation hosting a placement trainee) there are no compulsory costs. The graduates can be eligible for a grant which covers travel and living expenses (including insurance and visas). You can choose to provide contributions to the placement trainee during their placement period (either financial or in kind), but this is entirely optional.

“All these different countries‘ life experiences helped to build a good relationship with my customers in my business life” SME in Turkey, hosted a placement trainee

“Internationalization plays a key role in our activity, and the opportunity of hosting a motivated and resourceful graduate who can act as an insider in order to research a new market is definitely interesting” SME in Italy, hosted a placement trainee

Success story: Trainee Hi! My name is Elisavet and I am from Greece. By the time I was a post graduate student, heading for my MSc in Management at the University of Sheffield in the UK, I was pretty concerned about my involvement in the ‘real’ world of employment and my personal career. As it usually goes, stuck between a rock and a hard place - that is, the vicious circle of having to have work experience to get a job or start your own business, when you are actually not supposed to at this point in your life. At this point I came across the online platform of the EU project ‘women@business’, where female graduates were given the opportunity to actively participate, through placement all over Europe, in enterprises by working alongside successful female entrepreneurs. So, I just took my chances and applied, which eventually brought me in contact with a Greek SME, Militos Emerging Technologies & Services (www.militos.org). Following the submission of my CV and an interesting Skype interview with the Managing Director of the company, we explored common interests and worked our way towards collaboration; I was able to convince her of my commitment to this internship experience. To me, this really kicked the doors open in having the chance to learn directly from real professionals, testing and exploring suitable roles and gaining the so much sought after work experience. During my placement period, which I very much enjoyed as it was really rewarding both professionally and personally, I felt really valued. As for now, I’m a full time employee in Militos, as they say ‘one of the key team-members!’ and it all started through a placement. Isn’t that inspiring? Trust me, it is 100%.

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The chapter at a glance  A placement is a period designed for training purposes, spent in work environments where trainees are actively involved in work processes  EC mobility programmes support placements abroad for a number of different beneficiaries (e.g. students, graduates, would-be entrepreneurs).  Placements can be hosted by any organisation with legal status in the 27 member states as well as in Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey – and this includes SMEs.  Duration can range from 1 to 12 months and is defined before departure together with tasks to be performed by the trainee (Training Agreement)  It is up to the host organization to decide who to take on as a trainee according to its own requirements  Support and management of trainees are the key issues explored in this guide

Useful Links & Templates Useful information regarding opportunities in Europe http://ec.europa.eu/education/erasmus-for-all/ http://www.globalplacement.com/about

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3. How could hosting a placement benefit your SME? Internationalization has made a big impact on companies globally. As they grow more international, the need for networking and knowledge about different cultures grows accordingly. How can you prepare for increased global competition? How will you be able to market your company in a different culture without some knowledge about it? Small businesses might not have the capacity to hire staff to do this, so taking on a trainee might be just the thing you need to expand your business. Your business might not have all the competences you need, such as special knowledge about certain areas of your business or marketing areas. The main benefits for you of taking on a placement include: • •

Insights and knowledge about different cultures (which is crucial in order to succeed in international businesses) Further development of competences and skills for your SME and the opportunity to develop a project you otherwise might not have the time or skills to work on

Now let’s look closer at the benefits of taking on a trainee: •

Fresh Thinking: The trainee can bring in new ideas to your company and new ways of looking at your organisation’s activities to help improve processes. A new outlook from someone outside can be very valuable; often we are stuck with old ways of doing things and do not see outside the box. New Skills: You can get additional support with your business tasks in an area outside of your current employee’s expertise e.g. marketing. If you take on a marketing graduate on placement, they could develop your strategy further and implement a marketing campaign, for example. If you run a small company, you might not always have staff with all the skills and competences necessary for success in the international market. Intercultural Perspective: You have the chance to build intercultural knowledge and skills in your company. In a world that has become more and more internationalized, knowledge of different cultures is very important to all companies. To have someone from a different country and culture not only benefits your company directly, but also benefits your staff who can learn about new cultures and

“My name is Umberto, I am the co-owner of a consultancy firm in Italy specializing in web marketing and training for the tourism and enogastronomy sectors. We ran into Erasmus SMP by chance – an enterprising Croatian graduate asked the University of Genoa for the database of businesses that co-operate in traineeship programmes (we have been participating for 10 years): thus, she sent through her application with information about the programme and red tape involved – which to our surprise is very little and simple. Internationalization plays a key role in our activity, and the opportunity of hosting a motivated and resourceful graduate who can act as an “insider” in order to research a new market is definitely interesting. We proposed her a training task plan and gave advice about how to get prepared for the placement, which will start in October. Talent goes international!”

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ways of thinking, and possibly learn some words/phrases in a new language! Networking is crucial for businesses today; building up your client list and expanding your business. By taking on a trainee you could make the first steps to building up new contacts and networks in Europe and add value to your business.

Whereas my degree has given me excellent academic skills, it has not given me experience in how to work within an international organization. During my placement I will get acquainted with the daily office work and get work experience in an international environment.

A placement trainee in Belgium

During my studies I spend some time in Canada for an exchange project. I am eager to continue with that international pathway. I have heard about placement opportunities through the Get Mobile project and I would definitely like to learn more about it! A Dutch graduate interested in placement opportunities

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The chapter at a glance

For your SME, taking on a placement trainee from abroad is an excellent way to:  Gain first-hand information about foreign markets and improve intercultural intelligence – the keystones of successful internationalization  Bring in fresh outsider ideas and perspectives on processes and activities  Develop the company’s know hows and skills in strategic fields such as marketing  Make the first steps to building up new contacts and networks in Europe

Useful Links & Templates

The official website of the We Mean Business Campaign, issued in 2012 by the European Commission in order to raise awareness among European companies of the positive benefits of hosting an Erasmus or Leonardo da Vinci trainee:

http://we-mean-business.europa.eu

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4. Providing a female-friendly placement environment What do we mean by female-friendly? A female-friendly organization , according to the Equality Commission,1) is a company which: • • • •

Believes that women’s unique set of skills and experience are key to business success Has a clear strategy to increase the representation of women in the workplace Works to promote initiatives to support women in business and increase their confidence Has equal opportunity programmes in place to advance its female employees

Why is this important? Get Mobile is focusing on making sure that more female graduates from under-represented areas are encouraged to go abroad on placement to increase career prospects. Gender inequality is a common issue women face when they start working. The barriers are especially intense in certain business sectors, such as science, business, engineering and technology, which are traditionally maledominated. Research (World Bank, 2001) shows that: •

Success Story: Trainee Hi, My name is Pınar, I graduated from the City and Regional Planning Department in Turkey. During my studies, I wanted to develop myself in the field of Geographical Information Systems so I participated in an Internship program with IAESTE. I had an opportunity to work in the Scottish Forestry Commission as a GIS Developer Assistant for three months. It was a wonderful experience in my life,. It was very important to me to work with people from different nations and also meet a lot of different people. This experience helped me to plan my future in a very clear way. After my studies in Surveying Engineering this internship program made it much easier to find jobs. Now, I am working as a GIS Specialist in a private corporation and doing what I wanted to in my professional life.

Young women are often discouraged to pursue careers in business and science compared with their male colleagues; Women in technical and scientific fields face isolation, lack of access to relevant social networks, mentors and lack of sponsorships

Benefits of being female-friendly The benefits of becoming a more female-friendly workplace for all organisations include: •

Women are generally agreed to have different values than men do (Vivian Giang, 2012). Due to women’s higher levels of empathy, they are more likely to notice the needs of other employees contributing to create a more friendly work environment overall; Incorporating diverse gender talent to your team will highly expand your company’s market reach. Since 70% of women say that marketing doesn’t speak to them, they will provide your organisation with new and creative insights on how to target new and diverse market segments (Women Friendly Services, 2012); Women and men have different focus areas at work, for example women are more focused on developing long-term workplace skills than men, who are more likely to move on to better-paid jobs (Hobsons, 2005). This means women can contribute to the creation of a long-term business strategy for your company.

1) Equality Commission, 2007; Westminster University, 2012)

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Ways to improve the female-friendliness of your SME The barriers facing women as they try to find jobs in the fields of business, technology and science often put them off from finding employment in those sectors. Once employed, barriers persist throughout their career frequently preventing their advancement. There are several solutions which companies can put in place to recruit and support the progression of women, particularly in underrepresented areas:

Framework for assessing gender equitable organizations (World Bank, 2001)

1. Focus on effective recruitment Organizations need to ensure effective recruitment to capture the expanding number of women interested in pursuing a career in science, business engineering and technology. This can be achieved through targeting your placement advert or job vacancies, particularly to recent female graduates in under-represented areas. Make sure your placement advert is female-friendly! You also need to make sure you are recruiting and selecting trainees using the same equality methods as with regular members of staff. For example, make sure that staff involved in assessing applications or interviewing placement trainees have been through equality training or awareness. You should also monitor your placement advert to see numbers of men and women applying, to make sure your placement advert is equally attractive to both. 2. Retention – don’t let them go! Encouraging talented females to progress in their career depends significantly on the work environment. The ideal environment is hospitable and supportive to women, which is why informal practices to value women’s contributions should be in place, e.g. mentoring during a placement period.

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3. Ensure gender equality! Creating equal opportunities for the advancement and career development of women starting out in their careers is a fundamental element of a female-friendly work environment. By hosting female graduate trainees you and your organisation will be positively contributing to the first and fundamental steps of their career advancement.

“The best memory of my mobility experience was to get more responsibility than expected in all aspects. I also enjoyed nice nonwork related experiences, like travelling around the country and learning more about the culture of the UK”. A placement trainee in the UK

“What I liked most is the fact that I had the opportunity to develop a varied range of skills: soft, cross-cultural and technical – a booster for my CV” A placement trainee from the UK

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The chapter at a glance The benefits of becoming a more female-friendly workplace:  Due to their higher levels of empathy, women are more likely to notice the needs of other employees contributing to create a more friendly work environment overall  Incorporating diverse gender talent to your team will highly expand your company’s market reach - women will provide your organisation with new and creative insights on how to target new and diverse market segments;  Women being more focused on developing long-term workplace skills, they can contribute to the creation of a long-term business strategy for your company How to improve your company’s female-friendliness:  Focus on effective recruitment - make sure your placement advert is female-friendly!  Retention - encourage talented females to progress in their career by developing a suitable work environment  Ensure gender equality and equal opportunities for career growth

Useful Links & Templates The official website of the EUROCHAMBRES Women Network project, particularly the “publications” section http://www.echwomennetwork.eu/Content/Default.asp Here you can find examples of positive effects of diversity: http://www.mckinsey.com/locations/paris/home/womenmatter.asp

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5. Cultural implications of hosting a placement trainee Cultural differences, problems and solutions With placements abroad, a lot depends on the extent to which the trainee gets in contact with the “habitat” (lifestyle, mindset, habits) of the hosting country. This is not limited only to language issues – although fluency in the language does obviously help. Immersion means having the right attitude and motivation, as well as an adequate set of soft skills - from communication to selfconfidence and adaptability. Placements abroad prove to be an effective way to develop these skills, especially problem-solving and self-management. In this process that is both personal and intercultural for trainees, the role of hosting organisations is central. Your SME represents the trainee’s “practical handbook” in the world of work and also for the country’s identity and environment (economic, social and cultural). Having a mentor or coach in the organisation is key to supporting the adaptation to a new culture. They should support the trainee facilitating their integration into the workplace as well as providing a set of practical details and hints about daily living in the host country. As Mentors, it is essential to keep in mind that culture and customs change from country to country. What is considered as “the rule” in the hosting state could be considered as “strange” and difficult to understand elsewhere. For a Mentor, keeping the right balance between independence and support (always avoiding “parenting”) is essential in order to reduce the potential for socio-cultural clash for the trainee. Trainees will then be able to take the best out of the placement experience – know-how about job styles and professionalism; insights into a new culture and the capacity to handle change, diversity and uncertainty.

Company and country culture Organisations as well as countries have their own “culture” – ‘how we do things around here’. Business styles rely on a set of rules, these vary from explicit to those which are unspoken. It usually takes some time before a newcomer ‘fine tunes’ their behaviour to fit in with the culture of the organisation, and this is even more relevant for placement trainees from another country. Being proactive helps: the selection and preparation phases are essential in order to provide the trainee with preliminary information on your organisation and country e.g. brochures, websites, etc. so that they can begin to familiarise themselves with your culture as soon as possible. Through the support of the Mentor, as the placement starts and as the trainee gets to know their colleagues, activities and city/town that they will live in for the next few months, the process of fitting in to your organisation and country culture can begin. The induction process should normally take a few days, and include items such as office procedures, IT systems, equipment and filing systems etc.

Success Story: Trainee “My name is Francesca, I am a graduate in International Science and Diplomatic Relations. I did not know about mobility placements until a friend told me. Having almost no experience in the world of work, the prospective was appealing – improving my French and getting to know a job environment at the same time! I sent an application to the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Lyon: its role is to help Italian companies that want to do businesses abroad. The answer was positive, the grant awarded, the experience useful - I had the opportunity of following an internationalization project from the beginning to the end. What I liked the most is the fact that I had the opportunity to develop a varied range of skills: soft, cross-cultural and technical – a booster for my CV!”

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The chapter at a glance  During a placement abroad the trainee gets in contact with the ”habitat” of the hosting country and faces issues such as linguistic fluency, attitude/motivation, soft skills (communication, problem solving, self-management)  Hosting organisations represent the trainee’s “practical handbook” in the world of work as well as in the country’s culture  SMEs’ Mentors play the lead role in introducing trainees to the company’s habits and business styles as well as facilitating their fine tuning with the country’s daily life and identity  Proactivity helps: provide the trainees with preliminary information on your organisation and country so that they can begin to familiarise themselves with your culture while still at home

Useful Links & Templates Useful studies related to business communication styles all over the world http://www.globalnegotiationresources.com/

The portal of the EC DG for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion http://ec.europa.eu/social/home.jsp

Help and advice for EU nationals and their family about travel, work/retirement, living abroad, health and shopping. Featuring Citizens/Business versions. http://europa.eu/youreurope/index.htm

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6. How to choose the trainee that’s right for your SME You can use Get Mobile to search for suitable female trainees for your placement opportunity. Register at www.getmobileproject.eu to find out how you can access the CVs of female graduates in Business and Science looking to go on a placement abroad. Just as selecting the right employee for the job is crucial in an SME, so is choosing the right placement trainee. Follow these steps to help you recruit the most suitable trainee for your Success story: Trainee organisation. 1. Make sure you’re clear about the placement opportunity you have on offer If you’re not clear about what role/tasks/activities you want the placement trainee to carry out during a placement, then it will be difficult to make sure you’re attracting the most suitable trainee with relevant skills and interests. Make sure you prepare a Placement Description (similar to a job description) which outlines the placement role and typical tasks expected on the placement. You can also prepare a Person Description that shows trainees what criteria you think are essential for the placement role and which ones are desirable. This is also the chance to make it clear to potential applicants about the conditions of the placement – hours, any financial support available from the organisation etc. 2. Make sure you’re advertising your placement in the best places You need to make sure that your placement opportunity is being seen in the best places across Europe, to attract the best candidates. There are dedicated websites to advertise your placement vacancies free of charge and you can also advertise on www.getmobileproject.eu. Think about whether you are looking for a particular skill, e.g. marketing, and then you could approach Universities abroad running placement programmes that will have students or graduates in these areas. They can then send trainees’ CVs for you to look through. You might be looking for a trainee from a particular country to help you expand your business in that country. You can search for trainees by country on the online databases e.g. in Get Mobile you can see what country a placement trainee is from and where they want to go on placement to. For a list of websites to advertise your placement, please see Useful Links.

My name is Katrin and I am a recent graduate in European Studies from Germany. I came to the UK to undertake a placement abroad and worked as a Project Assistant for Inova Consultancy in Sheffield for six months. My decision for coming to work in the UK was motivated by increasing my employability after graduation, gaining new experiences and improving my language skills. I was very happy to get a placement with Inova as the company focuses on supporting women in the labour market and female entrepreneurs, and this was something I was interested in. My placement with Inova was very useful and I learned how to deal with different aspects of office work, such as how to write good business e-mails or how to approach colleagues and clients. The placement was also a good life experience and an opportunity to learn things about myself and gain more self-confidence. As a small business, Inova was able to offer me much more responsibility than I expected, which made this a truly beneficial experience for me.

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3. Interview candidates on Skype before making your final decision Just as with any recruitment process, you need to have as much information about the placement trainee before you make your choice on who would be the most appropriate trainee. Once you have looked through CVs, you should make your shortlist of candidates you are interested in and then organize interviews with candidates to help you make the final decision. Using Skype is the most cost effective way of interviewing candidates abroad. Make sure you have your list of questions ready before speaking to candidates so that you can ask each person the same and compare them fairly. Once you have interviewed candidates you should get back to the successfull trainee as soon as possible. Many placement trainees have to complete a placement as part of their course and have tight deadlines for this, so they need to know from you if their application has or hasn’t been successful as quickly as possible. It’s good practice to let those candidates know that weren’t successful, again so that they can move on with applying to other organisations for their placements.

“When customers provide positive feedback about their experiences with your graduates and see them as an integral part of your team, you know you made the right choice”. SME in the UK, hosted a placement trainee

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The chapter at a glance  Use Get Mobile to search for suitable female trainees for your placement opportunity register at www.getmobileproject.eu!  Follow these steps to help you recruit the most suitable trainee for your organisation  Make sure you’re clear about the placement opportunity you have on offer: prepare a Placement Description (similar to a job description) which outlines the placement role and typical tasks expected on the placement  Make sure you’re advertising your placement in the best places: your placement opportunity is to be seen in the best places across Europe to attract the best candidates  Interview candidates on Skype before making your final decision: it is the most cost effective way of interviewing candidates abroad

Useful Links & Templates Hints and templates for recruiting staff, focused on SMEs support needs http://www.smetoolkit.org/smetoolkit/en/category/937/Recruiting-Hiring Eures homepage http://ec.europa.eu/eures/home.jsp?lang=en Get Mobile homepage http://getmobileproject.eu

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7. Hosting a placement trainee – before your trainee starts Communication between SME and trainee before their arrival Before the trainee arrives, clear communication between the trainee and your company is very important to prevent difficulties and misunderstandings occurring later on. Try and send the trainee general information about the company, town or area. If you decide to take on another trainee placement in the future, then it could be the role of the current placement to inform the next trainee about these aspects, in order to put the new trainee at ease. Once you have made a decision about hosting a trainee, it is very important to prepare staff and provide them with information about the new team member. Staff should be encouraged to make the trainee feel at home and help her fit into the workplace. A good idea is to have a special induction programme for her in the beginning (as you would with any new starter), a tour of your company and to meet all staff, not only on company premises but also ideally in a social setting. You also need to prepare for the trainee’s arrival by making sure that a workspace is ready e.g. desk, computer and Internet access. A warm welcome to the workplace is very important so the trainee will feel at home from the beginning, and settle into their placement quickly.

Practical information for the trainee before she arrives You can decide on the amount and type of information to provide for trainees before their placement. For example, you could provide practical information regarding accommodation, insurance, social services, health care and banking. It is usually easiest to provide a list of useful websites for trainees to be able to look through before they travel so that they can feel more prepared and ask any questions that are worrying them before they arrive.

Success story: SME “My name is Olga, and I am the Managing Director of Militos Emerging Technologies & Services in Greece. Militos is an innovative firm that renders high quality consulting services. Our fundamental objective is that the collaborations we choose are unique, regardless of their duration and magnitude. We strongly support the practice of work placement trainees, having a clear picture of the benefits for both the trainees and the companies, especially small and medium enterprises. Actually, we are well known for training our people from scratch! See… qualifications are not limited to a CV. It is not by chance that Militos regularly hosts trainees, who eventually turn out to become either our full employees or we have secured a job placement for them in another company where they were given the opportunity to widen their career horizons. It is our philosophy in doing business and working with people from all over Europe, getting the satisfaction of giving guidance to them, while raising the profile of the company. It is actually a case of thinking outside of the box, making the best out of our business aspirations, by treasuring talent and commitment wherever it comes from. Is it worth it? For sure!”

Mentoring during the placement period Ideally, you will appoint a member of staff to be a Mentor for the trainee. As with all members of staff, the Mentor needs to know about the trainee (their past skills and experiences) in order to help them settle in and make sure that she is getting the most out of the placement experience. The Mentor can send a short introduction email to the trainee before she arrives so that they can get to know each other.

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

Supporting trainees to build a social network Social networking is important for the trainee, so preparation before she arrives is important. When the trainee arrives, it is important for the Mentor to introduce her to the local area; how to get to work; where to shop; where the hospital is etc. The Mentor should be aware of different cultural backgrounds and inform the trainee about the culture in the new country. You can put your trainee in touch with local organisations who could provide activities for international students, for example, to help them meet new people.

Managing trainees’ expectations When speaking to SMEs who have successfully hosted several placement trainees, managing “Internationalization plays a expectations comes up as something that is key role in our activity, and the crucial to ensure a successful experience opportunity of hosting a for both trainees and companies. Trainee motivated and resourceful expectations can vary greatly from one graduate who can act as an trainee to another. Expectations can “insider” in order to research a include: increasing their knowledge of new market is definitely different cultures; learning a new interesting” language; strengthening their network; or simply increasing their skills in the SME in Italy, hosted a workplace. In order to try and meet these placement trainee varied expectations, you need to have some information from the trainee about what they are hoping to gain from their placement experience (ideally discussed at recruitment stage), before the placement trainee is selected by the host organisation.

Managing company expectations It is important that you are clear about what the trainee should focus on during her placement period. Whilst there is obviously flexibility with any placement period, it is ideal to provide a placement description in advance with a list of some of the tasks and activities expected to be carried out by the trainee. It is also useful to provide a Memorandum of Understanding or placement agreement between the placement trainee and your organisation which outlines place and hours of work, dress codes, any financial contributions to be made, monitoring and disciplinary procedures. This agreement can then be signed by both the trainee and your organisation to provide a formal record.

“I find mobility opportunities an exciting option for our company. We will certainly look into the possibilities with the help of GET mobile” SME in Iceland, interested in mobility.

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

The chapter at a glance  Pre-arrival 1: clear communication prevents difficulties and misunderstandings occurring later on. Send the trainee general information about the company, town or area, customs and culture as well as practical information and useful links  Pre-arrival 2: prepare staff and provide them with information about the new team member, including ensuring that a workspace is ready  Select and train a Mentor  Support trainees to build a social network  Manage trainees’ and company expectations – shun improvisation!

Useful Links & Templates The website of this EU LLP projects provides templates and check lists dedicated to SME Mentors. http://www.evta.net/eumoveportal/startpage_-3.html

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

8. Hosting a placement trainee – the first few weeks Hosting a placement trainee can be an enriching experience for both trainee and host organisation. We’ve put together some information here to help you make the most of your trainee’s time with you.

Introducing the company It’s important that the placement trainee understands your business – its aims, customers and working culture. Most companies find it useful to arrange an introductory meeting with their trainee to cover the basics about the role and expectations. This meeting should include topic such as: 1. The what, where, why and how of your company • Company history and current circumstances (how you were set up, how you got to where you are now) • Your business objectives and target customers 2. Your team and working culture • Organisation and team structure (who they’ll be working with) • Working hours and breaks • Location of amenities (e.g. toilets, canteen etc.) • Health and safety at work • Company's expectations of behaviour (cover issues like confidentiality, communication within the team, any information about disciplinary procedures) 3. Managing the trainee’s development • Clarify their role (what they will be doing, where they fit within your organisation) • Any training schedules (do they need to have training to perform in their role?) • Feedback or appraisal plan (many companies like to conduct an initial review after the first few weeks/months, depending on the length of placement, followed by a second one further into the placement)

A useful tip:

Good practice is to assign a specific project to the placement trainee that matches their skills, abilities and interests. This means think “tasks not tea” (CIPD, 2012, p.16). It is important to keep trainees active and engaged with the organisation, ensuring a positive and encouraging work experience.

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

The chapter at a glance  Introduce your company - the placement trainee is to understand your business – its aims, customers and working culture  Hot topics: • The “what, where, why and how” of your company • Your team and working culture • Management of the trainee’s development  Assign a specific project to the placement trainees - keep them active and engaged with the organisation

Useful Links & Templates The website of this EU LLP projects provides templates and check lists dedicated to SMEs Mentors. http://www.evta.net/eumoveportal/startpage_-3.html

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

9. Hosting a placement trainee - support and monitoring Ongoing support In general terms, a placement represents a transition between study and work. Very often, being on placement in an organisation will be a completely new experience for the trainee. The trainee should be accepted as an equal part of the team, with similar responsibilities. This is an advantage in small businesses, where tasks and responsibilities are often shared between small numbers of staff.

Monitoring during the placement period Once the placement trainee is familiar with the day-to-day practise of the company, a monitoring system should be put in place to review the achievements, progress and possible challenges encountered during the placement. The trainee should be assisted by a mentor or tutor selected by the company, who acts as a contact point. This role would suit someone in the company wanting to develop their training skills. Mentors need to provide trainees with: • • •

Regular reviews and guidance Feedback, praise and recognition (constructive criticism where necessary) Open dialogue On-going support

Networking Networking plays an important part in the placement experience. Try and make sure that the trainee: • • •

Is connected with all the other staff members Is aware of other staff members’ tasks and responsibilities. Knows who to ask for day to day questions or if they want to discuss their personal and professional development further.

From the point of view of external networking, the trainee should be aware of both customers and business partners. This network building should not only be encouraged for business reasons, but also as an opportunity for trainees to develop potential career links for their future.

A useful tip:

A placement period should be planned out before the trainee arrives. It doesn’t get things off to a strong start otherwise. For the initial weeks, a task list is recommended, as well as support with prioritizing tasks to help the trainee into the day to day routine of working in your company.

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

The chapter at a glance  Always remember that a placement represents a transition between study and work  A monitoring system is useful to review the achievements, progress and possible challenges encountered during the placement  The Mentor should assist the trainee also as regards networking – both internal (staff) and external (customers and partners)  Preliminary planning and task lists do prove useful during the first weeks

Useful Links & Templates The website of this EU LLP projects provides templates and check lists dedicated to SMEs Mentors. http://www.evta.net/eumoveportal/startpage_-3.html

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

10.

Hosting a placement trainee – evaluation and follow-up

It is good practice to carry out some kind of ‘exit interview’ with placement trainees. This could be part of a final monitoring/appraisal review meeting between you and the trainee. This provides the chance for trainees to give you their opinion on how the placement went overall, what they liked and disliked and any ways it could be improved for future trainees. Many trainees have to write a report for their funding programme which they could also share with you, although it should be kept in mind that this is likely to be in their native language. It is always interesting to find out where past placement trainees go on to work following their placement period in your company. For many trainees, this could include going on to further or higher study, going into paid work or voluntary work, or deciding to complete a different placement to try out another area of work. If you can keep in touch with your former placement trainees it forms a useful way of showing future trainees that you’re a friendly place to work, as well as building up your contacts across Europe as the trainee moves on in their career. If you have a Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin account, make sure placement trainees are signed up as members and followers, as well as signed up for your company newsletters. Many trainees like to follow what your company is involved in after completing their placement period. For women working in underrepresented fields it is especially important to keep involved in networks across Europe to progress their careers.

Interested in finding out more about taking on a female placement trainee from abroad?... Are you ready to get started?....then Get Connected!

“It is not choosing a job, it is about choosing a way of life” A placement trainee from Turkey

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Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

The chapter at a glance  Carry out some kind of ‘exit interview’ with placement trainees  Keep in touch with your former placement trainees - it is a useful way of showing future trainees that you’re a friendly place to work, as well as building up your contacts across Europe as the trainee moves on in their career.

Useful Links & Templates The website of this EU LLP projects provides templates and check lists dedicated to SMEs Mentors. http://www.evta.net/eumoveportal/startpage_-3.html

29 www.getmobileproject.eu


Tapping into European Talent Best Practice guide for SMEs

This guidebook is intended as an introductory guide to hosting a placement trainee and Get Mobile accepts no liability for actions taken by individuals and organisations as a result of reading this guidebook.

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Tapping into European talent - practical  

In this guide you can get practical information regarding mobiltiy opportunities in Europe.

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