An early start at 7.45am to the third day of the trip to Catalonia as we leave the city and caught a train to Vic, in the area of Osona. Maria was already on the train so it was very important for us to be on time. While travelling through the mountains, the rain came and changed the landscape that welcomed industrial areas. Our expectations were of a grey, industrial city, therefore we were very pleasantly surprised. We walked through heavy rain but on arrival at a beautiful college we had an a warm welcome from the Principal Cristòfol Estrella i Padilla.
Cris presented their structure, curriculum areas and important work on mobility. Before taking a tour of the college which had 1400 learners and 125 staff, he referenced the areas of provision, they are; business and management, marketing, electronics, installation and maintenance, chemistry, and health.
He also emphasised the pride toward the Catalan language in explaining that everything is taught through the medium of Catalan.
A number of courses are dual core which means that there are common modules and therefore it is possible to achieve two courses over three years instead of four. Students and employers alike favour this model. This innovative system of supporting learner and staff mobility started in 1992 and they now have 37 foreign college partners, this is confirmation of the excellent work by Principal Cris and the team. As we wandered around the college, Cris focussed on the importance of real experiences for their learners, and we were able to see a number of dedicated rooms with practical tools from the world of work. They have a supermarket, pharmacy, dental hygeine room, maternity ward, emergency room, and disptach storeroom complete with a forklift. In response to local industry demand, they will be introducing a lorry driver course in September. To provide a realistic experience of the workplace, the college, the Catalan government and companies have invested in quality, realistic professional resources, supporting learners to be confident before entering the workplace.
Cris mentioned that unemployment in the region stood at 0%, and that their problem was learner capacity, and finding enough learners to fill certain jobs in the area.
It is imperative for Institut de Vic to offer mobility projects to: study; get work experience; dual mobility; and staff mobility, in order to broaden the skills, experience and awareness of what is happening within countries and partner companies.
To conclude the morning session we watched a marketing video for the city that gave an overview and visions of the stunning buildings, the history and culture of the city. Cris then led us around the beautiful city that was a mix of new and old.
We enjoyed a traditional local lunch and the opportunity for networking before moving on to the afternoon session.
We walked for ten minutes towards the first factory visit of the afternoon, to a frozen food factory by the name Fferer. There, we had an entertaining presentation on the history of this family company that has expanded over the 92 years of its existence, from being a local company to being a company completely international. The international nature of the company has obviosuly had an impact on the language used on a daily basis. By now, Spanish and English are used by the company in communicating in public, but it was great to hear that the workers use Catalan internally.
The highlight of the visit was the experience of the extreme temperature on entering the freezer, and also seeing the factory floor where college learners work as part of their dual mobility. We realised our summer clothes not suitable for the freezing temperature!. We had not organized this too well!!
We proceeded to the residence-hall for mobility learners and staff, which Cris was so proud to show us. There were attractive and comfortable apartments over five floors with views over the whole city.
Before leaving Vic, there was an opportunity for a last visit to a traditional Catalonian sausage factory called Cas Riera Ordeix. Nowadays, it is the only company that continues to produce sausage in the same way as when it was established in the 1800s.
This is another example of a family company, now run by the sixth generation and working in Catalan. As they are the only company of its kind, they have taken the opportunity to open their doors to tourists in order to share their and offer tourist visits in Spanish, French, English, and of course Catalan.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to taste and buy the unique produce.
Thanks to Cris for organizing and spending the whole day with us as visitors. We realise, as the head of a large and busy school, this has been a great commitment on his part.
After nearly 14 hours of incredible experiences during the day, it was our last night and a chance to discuss the highlights over a wonderful Italian dinner near our hotel in Barcelona.