Over the next 12 months 60 French plumbing apprentices will be taking part in the scheme being run by Business Education South Yorkshire in partnership with Les Compagnons du Devoir.
Companies from Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley have signed up for the scheme and the first set of apprentices has just completed their placements with another group arriving from France this month.
Education director Deidre Eastburn said: “The feedback has been absolutely wonderful. Companies were initially a little bit sceptical as language problems could have been an issue.
“However, they didn’t find it too difficult - even though the group’s English was pretty basic - and they found their plumbing skills were very good.
“The companies are now really keen for their apprentices to go over to France and we are looking to develop every opportunity this has offered us.”
During the three week placement the apprentices undertake induction training, take part in a cultural programme and get an insight into working in England through a work based placement.
Tasks undertaken include fitting central heating systems, repairing boilers and inspecting valves
Companies taking part in the scheme included Kier Group, Bankfield Plumbing and Heating, Enterprise Property Solutions, Bramalls, St Leger Homes (a group of their apprentices are pictured), Berneslai Homes, Inspace and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
The scheme has been so successful that dozens of families have signed up to host apprentices and Rotherham College of Arts and Technology is setting up its own exchange trip for plumbing apprentices which will run alongside the existing scheme.
Mrs Eastburn said: “There is a labour shortage up here, but this scheme is more about sharing good practice.
“The French apprentices recognise they now need to know what is going on in their industry in countries like England, Germany and Spain.
“Our businesses can see that exchanging skills is useful and they would like to see their apprentices go in the other direction.”
Business Education South Yorkshire
Les Compagnons du Devoir