01 October 2010

Get industry experience in France

Annette Wittmann, Administrative Officer, RIIERP; Scott Johnson, Human Resources Manager, Degrémont; Ben Marshall, student, School of Engineering (TAFE); Dr Betty Richards, Lecturer, School of Engineering (TAFE); and Samuel Georges, Deputy Director, TAFE, College of Science, Engineering and Health.

An innovative French government and industry collaboration is helping students gain precious international industry experience and language skills.

Airbus in Toulouse and Degrémont - a member of the Aquasure team working on the Victorian desalination project - have accepted interns from the RMIT International Industry Experience and Research Program (RIIERP), which places more than 160 students a year with corporations in 16 countries.

New scholarships from the French Government, through the French embassy in Canberra, provide support for airfares and a French language course at RMIT, coordinated by French researcher and lecturer Dr Kerry Mullan.

Luke Thomas, a Bachelor of Business (International Business) student, has departed for Airbus, and Ben Marshall, who is in his final year of the Advanced Diploma of Engineering Design program, joins Degrémont this month until February 2011.

Mr Marshall, the first TAFE student to participate in RIIERP andto go to a Fortune 500 company in France, said: "I am really looking forward to the opportunity of gaining cultural and hands-on technical experience within the global industry.

"In addition I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the advice and support offered by RMIT, Degrémont and the French Embassy," Mr Marshall said.

Degrémont is emerging as one of RMIT's most significant industry partners in the context of vocational training and research collaboration.

Samuel Georges, Deputy Director TAFE from the College of Science, Engineering and Health, said the hands-on training and the extensive vocational knowledge gained by students undertaking the Advanced Diploma through TAFE would prove invaluable to overseas partner companies.

"The commitment we have to expand this initiative to our TAFE students through RIIERP should not be under-estimated. We are fully committed and very excited about the prospects and future potentials this can provide to our TAFE students," he said.

Dr Betty Richards, who lectures in the School of Engineering (TAFE), and has been involved in this project since its inception, said: "The feedback from overseas partners will undoubtedly provide the School with invaluable means of assessing the quality of its students from a global perspective."

The number of overseas companies and institutions participating in the RIIERP program is increasing by the year.

Professor Sylvester Abanteriba, RIIERP Director, said the University was grateful for such generosity and goodwill from the French government and industry.

"This is a great partnership. The French language program at RMIT, for which the students receive credit, constitutes an important element in preparing them for employment in a globalised economy.

"From the technical point of view I foresee a very vibrant and mutually beneficial engagement with a blue-ribbon global corporation like Degrémont," Professor Abanteriba said.

Students participating in RIIERP gain the major advantage of maximising their educational experience and professional development through work-integrated learning - "learning by doing".

Béatrice Chassaing, Higher Education Attaché with the French Embassy, said the Embassy wanted to foster student mobility to France and give opportunities for Australian students to acquire professional experience in a French socio-economical environment.

"It's one more way to show that learning French is worthwhile!

"In our current world, students have to gain practical skills and to broaden their horizons. This new program, set up with Australian universities and French companies, gives this opportunity," Ms Chassaing said.

Agathe de Braquilanges, HR Business Partner, Degrémont, Australia, said that Degrémont had strong relationships with universities around the world, providing access to innovative technologies and quality graduates.

"The Degrémont global HR teams attended a number of trade shows and job fairs in major cities of Asia and Australia, North and South America, and, of course, Europe.

"From 2006 the Group also ran recruitment communication drives on the web and took part in chat rooms. This policy will be pursued even more vigorously in 2011," Ms de Braquilanges said.

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