The Vocational Training Team: a new and additional approach to vocational service and training

by Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair

In 2013, all districts will have the opportunity to support Vocational Training Teams (VTTs) with Rotary Foundation grants. These teams of Rotarian and non-Rotarian professionals will travel abroad to meet a humanitarian need, either by teaching local professionals about a particular field or learning more themselves.

VTTs, like Group Study Exchanges (GSEs), can be sponsored by district grants, which have no area of focus requirements. Districts 6200 and 9600 used district grants to organize a Vocational Training Team (VTT) exchange dealing with the environmental impact of oil spills. VTTs can also be sponsored by global grants.

Some districts have expressed disappointment that the Foundation will no longer support the Group Study Exchange (GSE) program. However, many districts have had difficulty finding professionals who meet the program requirements, forcing the Foundation to grant dozens of exceptions to the GSE guidelines every year. Under Future Vision, districts can still sponsor such activities through district grants and search for partners on the District Grant VTT Partner Forum on LinkedIn.

Unlike GSEs, VTTs have no restrictions on participant age or length of training. They also offer an opportunity for the hands-on activity with lasting impact that many GSE participants have requested. The GSE program established the Foundation’s commitment to vocational training; VTTs are taking that commitment to a new, more dynamic level.

I encourage every district to take advantage of the humanitarian service that can be generated by a Vocational Training Team, once Future Vision is fully introduced on 1 July. This doesn’t mean that your Foundation won’t allow GSE teams. They will still be funded, but with the money allocated to the district, and only when the district committee feels that it will be a meaningful exchange.

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About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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