Thursday 31 July 2014


Michelin's Ballymena branch is strengthening its global links thanks to an international exchange scheme. 

Engineering students, Georg Sailor from Austria and Alejandro Pitarch Olivas from Spain, will be spending the summer at the Ballymena factory through the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) Programme managed by the British Council. 

Over the course of an eight-week placement the students will complete specialist projects, related to their university degrees, before giving a special presentation to the management team within the company. 

This is the second year Michelin, which produces truck and bus tyres, has taken part in the global student exchange programme.

Gary Smith, project co-ordinator at Michelin said: “IAESTE offers a fresh approach to some very difficult challenges that businesses face. It brings the best out of a firm and helps elevate a business’ performance.

“At Michelin, it has opened our eyes up to the talent available, not just internationally, but at home. Before, we tended to look internally to develop our skills base, but now we think about what those fresh out of university can offer. They bring new ideas and skills and reinvigorate the firm in the summer months.”

Mr Smith, who himself completed an IAESTE placement in Barcelona while at university, also knows that the benefits work both ways.

He said: “With this sort of placement you have an opportunity to sink your teeth into real projects, within a structured, technical environment. It opens your eyes to life within a large commercial organisation and gives you an idea of what working life is like. The practical experience no doubt helped shaped who I am today.”

The trainees are part of a group of 39 international students from 27 countries, who will who will work in Northern Ireland through IAESTE this summer, while 26 students from Northern Ireland will complete work placements in 15 countries worldwide.  The IAESTE programme offers students in technical degrees with paid, course-related training abroad and employers with highly skilled, highly motivated international trainees.

David Alderdice, British Council Director in Northern Ireland, said: “International business connections and partnerships are vital for economic success and growth. Exchange programmes like IAESTE facilitate these connections by bringing in young future business leaders from around the world for placements with local employers and send out our future business leaders into the international marketplace to gain international experience and build partnerships for success.”

The students were recently welcomed to Northern Ireland by Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry at a special reception at the Harbour Commissioner’s Office in Belfast. 

He said: “I am pleased these students have decided to come to Northern Ireland to gain technical experience. Students from previous years have recounted their positive experiences of Northern Ireland, and I hope that the knowledge and experience gained will prove invaluable for future careers and the exchange of ideas.” 

The IAESTE programme is supported by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) in conjunction with local Universities and the British Council. Among the other local companies who have taken students this year are CDE Ireland Ltd, Kainos, SAP, Seagate Technologies and Translink.

For more information on IAESTE visit or for details on opportunities available through the British Council visit or email


Notes to Editor

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The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We work in over 100 countries worldwide to build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people. We work in the arts, education, English, science, sport and governance and last year we engaged face to face with 18.4 million people and reached 652 million. We are a non-political organisation which operates at arm’s length from government. Our total turnover in 2009/10 was £705 million, of which our grant-in-aid from the British government was £211 million. For every £1 of government grant we receive, we earn £2.50 from other sources. For more information, please visit: