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European Training Services – Cultural Exchange Programme

Marina Ibrahim - cross-cultural coachIntercultural Confidence & Competency Trainer

European Training Services (ETS) is the UK’s leading EU-funded organisation arranging overseas training for school leavers and graduates. It offers help and advice about life and work abroad and works exclusively with college leavers undertaking 3-month work experience placements in the destination countries of France, Italy, Germany and Spain.


The brief

ETS were concerned about the cultural exchange programme’s high dropout rate of around 30% participants owing to cross-cultural anxiety. bizz buzz was asked to design a bespoke training solution to address the issue.

The background

Cross-cultural anxiety arises from having to learn and use a foreign language in country abroad. This anxiety has a detrimental effect on the graduate’s confidence, self-esteem and their level of participation in the cultural exchange programme. Anxious graduates can suffer from:

  • Mental blocks, lack of confidence, homesickness
  • Feeling unhappy about the length of the time away from home, partners, family and friends
  • Experiencing ‘culture-shock’ by feeling overwhelmed by the foreign language, unfamiliar situations, people’s behaviour, food and culture
  • Employing avoidance strategies such as skipping foreign language class, dropping out or curtailing their work-placement experience
  • Forgetting previously learned material, being quieter and less willing to communicate
  • Having a greater tendency to remain passive in their workplace experience activities
  • Being perceived as less trustworthy, less competent, less socially and physically attractive, tenser, less composed and less dominant

The programme

Prepared graduates with training prior to the actual work placement to improve their cultural awareness, understanding and confidence. The aim was to equip them with practical strategies to help them overcome transcultural anxieties when they arose when abroad, re-gain their confidence and motivation and as a result have a more interesting, exciting and successful experience

The outcome

Drastically reduced dropout rate to 5%

The feedback

“We were delighted with the intercultural training that Marina delivered for us. Her personal expertise in the field of travel and intercultural understanding made it a very insightful session and all participants felt very at ease in her presence, thanks to her warm and positive character. Through Marina’s training, our participants were able to discover more about themselves and identify the key skills that they possess. I am convinced that Marina has given them the confidence to deal with any challenges they encounter.”

Jenny Price, Work Placement Manager  European Training Services