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ERASMUS PROGRAM Further Education - Practices in companies

The European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme enables people at all stages of their lives to take part in stimulating learning experiences, as well as helping to develop the education and training sector across Europe.

With a budget of nearly €7 billion from 2007 to 2013, the programme funds a range of actions including exchanges, study visits and networking activities. Projects are intended not only for individual students and learners, but also for teachers, trainers and all others involved in education and training.

There are four sub-programmes which fund projects at different levels of education and training:

1) ERASMUS for higher education

ERASMUS is the EU's flagship education and training programme enabling 200 000 students to study and work abroad each year. In addition, it funds co-operation between higher education institutions across Europe. The programme not only supports students, but also professors and business staff who want to teach abroad, as well as helping university staff to receive training.

Many studies show that a period spent abroad not only enriches students' lives in the academic and professional fields, but can also improve language learning, intercultural skills, self-reliance and self-awareness. Their experiences give students a better sense of what it means to be a European citizen. In addition, many employers highly value such a period abroad, which increases the students' employability and job prospects.

Staff exchanges have similar beneficial effects, both for the people participating and for the home and host institutions.

2) LEONARDO da VINCI for vocational education and training

The Leonardo da Vinci Programme funds practical projects in the field of vocational education and training. Initiatives range from those giving individuals work-related training abroad to large-scale co-operation efforts.Part of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, this programme funds many different types of activities of varying scales. These include ‘mobility' initiatives enabling people to train in another country, co-operation projects to transfer or develop innovative practices, and networks focusing on topical themes in the sector.

The people able to benefit from the programme range from trainees in initial vocational training, to people who have already graduated, as well as VET professionals and anyone from organisations active in this field.

Leonardo da Vinci enables organisations in the vocational education sector to work with partners from across Europe, exchange best practices, and increase their staff's expertise. It should make vocational education more attractive to young people and, by helping people to gain new skills, knowledge and qualifications, the programme also boosts the overall competitiveness of the European labour market.

Innovation projects are key to the programme. They aim to improve the quality of training systems by developing and transferring innovative policies, courses, teaching methods, materials and procedures.

3) COMENIUS for schools

The Comenius Programme focuses on all levels of school education, from pre-school and primary to secondary schools. It is relevant for everyone involved in school education: mainly pupils and teachers but also local authorities, representatives of parents' associations, non-government organisations, teacher training institutes and universities.  

Part of the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme, the Comenius actions aim to help young people and educational staff better understand the range of European cultures, languages and values. They also help young people acquire the basic life skills and competences necessary for personal development, future employment and active citizenship.

The programme addresses issues strongly related to current discussions and developments in school policy: motivation for learning and ‘learning-to-learn' skills, key competences, digital educational content and inclusive education.

4) Grundtvig: practical learning for adults

The Grundtvig programme focuses on the teaching and study needs of learners taking adult education and ‘alternative' education courses, as well as the organisations delivering these services. It aims to help develop the adult education sector, as well as enable more people to undertake learning experiences, notably in other European countries.  

Launched in 2000, Grundtvig aims to provide adults with more ways to improve their knowledge and skills, facilitate their personal development and boost their employment prospects. It also helps to tackle problems associated with Europe's ageing population.

It covers not only teachers, trainers, staff and organisations working in the sector, but also learners in adult education. These include relevant associations, counselling organisations, information services, policy-making bodies and others such as NGOs, enterprises, voluntary groups and research centres.

The programme funds a range of activities, including particularly those supporting adult learning staff to travel abroad for learning experiences, through exchanges and various other professional experiences. Other larger scale initiatives involve, for instance, networking and partnerships between organisations in different countries.

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