On Sunday 26th May Áine Holden Communications Manager for the Institute joined a group of education and industry stakeholders organised by the Teacher’s Union of Ireland to Graafschap College in the Netherlands. Dr. Aidan Kenny Assistant General Secretary of TUI organised the trip after the Dutch group visited Ireland in February of this year. Below is a blog of her experience and photographs from the trip.
The main aim of the visit was to learn from our European colleagues and build meaningful relationships with Irish Education Training Boards (ETBs), Educational Institutes and key Industry companies in Ireland around the Logistics, Supply Chain and Transport study areas and show pathways for students of all ages to study.
I and the group of the following individuals met each other for the first time at arrivals lounge of Schiphol Airport. Some were known to me from previous dealings with educational institutes and industry however there were plenty of new faces to meet and get to know. Those of the tour were;
• Áine Holden, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
• Declan Allen, Assistant Head of School at School of Management, College of Business, Technological University Dublin
• Efce Van Heerden, Cork Institute of Technology
• Fiona Maloney, ETBI Director of Further Education and Training Support Services at Education and Training Boards Ireland
• Guillermo Gombao, Erasmus+ Student from Madrid, Spain who was on a three-month placement in TUI
• Richard White, Driver Trainer Musgraves
• Paddy Healy, TUI Executive
• Seamus Lahart, TUI President
• Dr. Aidan Kenny Assistant General Secretary of TUI
• Trevor Sinnott Waterford Wexford Education Training Board
• Tanya O’Grady Waterford Wexford Education Training Board
The adventure began by train of course to reach Doetinchem railway station. Our ‘triangle of travel’ of four changes, a broken-down train on the tracks and free coffee (for passengers affected by the delayed train) we finally arrival at Doetinchem. For a group of logistics professionals, we were in our element! Doetinchem in the east of the Netherlands is only 30 kilometres to the border with Germany.
After meeting some of the lectures / coordinators at the railway station, Roburt, Vincent and Danelle a meet and greet dinner was organised for that evening. It was lovely to speak with everyone and get to know their interests within the industry. That evening we were shown around the city with a walk by the canal, the architecture and heard some of the history of the area.
The following day, Monday 27th May the group visited the main building of Graafshap College. It was an insightful visit to see the space, layout of building, students at study and the opportunity for the group to ask questions to teachers.
We then went to Stoomtram which is the Logistics Department building that is within walking / cycling distance. Here there is a purpose-built warehouse for students to learn about the practical elements of the industry with trucks, forklifts and stock. I was impressed by the level of detail and how much effort and thought had been put into the design and execution of the warehouse.
Presentations of the Dutch school system followed which had clear, defined pathways for students of all levels to study, learn and develop their careers in the industry they choose. Many remarked how seamless the system was for learners and it gave students the security of knowing they have multiple options available to them. This was furthered by many in the room that in Ireland there is a over reliance of third level university degrees that are not catering for the practical skills-based courses / apprenticeships that are needed in the future workforce.
That afternoon, we were divided into two groups for The Supply Chain Game and The Warehouse Game. The computer-based game for supply chain had us working in groups of four that we acted as the manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor and retailer. We all played one of these roles, and in the first game we did not communicate to each other. This showed as we lost money, had high inventory and were not working as a seamless chain! The second time we played we worked together, spoke openly what to do and results at the end showed how well our stock and costs were lower. The game was great to play as it gave me a simple understanding of what we all need to do to work together.
Then came the warehouse game which gave us the opportunity to drive a Forklift. In the simulated environment of the warehouse students of the college learn the basics of using a forklift – an important skill to have. I, Tanya, Trevor, Guillermo, and Sabine all had one to one training on using the forklift and then followed an obstacle course through the warehouse. I have never driven a forklift before and what a great skill to have. Richard and Declan had the opportunity to fit snow chains onto truck wheels and learn about the process for students in the college.
No journey to the Netherlands would be complete without visiting a souvenir shop in the town. Unfortunately, no wooden clogs were bought but some slipper versions for children were. Also, some beautiful wooden tulips for friends and family. Vincent had given me some on his visit to Ireland and the evening before I remarked that many had commented on how beautiful they were. Vincent arranged to have us brought by ‘Hogenkamp’ on our way from the main building to Stoomtram. That evening we met with other Graafschap colleagues to exchange ideas to further our working relationships.
Tuesday 28th May came quickly to the visit. After we checked out, we made our way to Stoomtram building again to meet industry companies the college works with that take in students. We then received a presentation on the European Network for Vocational Education (NETINVET) VETMO4L (mobility project). Sabine, from Berufliche Schulen Kehl college spoke about the need for students to work abroad, learn new languages and cultures of other countries. English as a language is very important to students to learn and many wish to come to Ireland to improve their skills. Any companies who would like to get involved in the project are very welcome to speak with Aine Holden about this. Placements are usually three months in length and are a great way to introduce new ideas and ways of working to learners.
Before we knew it, our tour was completed. Due to a public transport strike we were driven to the airport, which was much faster route for us all. Personally, I have made some contacts here with Irish ETBs and companies. I hope I can assist with the NETINVET project and help students in the future.
Many thanks to Dr. Aidan Kenny in TUI and Seamus Lahart TUI President for inviting me on the tour.