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Fabio Boccio & Patrizia Pelliccioni, Founders, Crewative, Italy

For the founders of education agency Crewative in Rome, a career in international education had always been on the cards. Patrizia fell in love with languages and travelling as a child following her father – a diplomat – around the world, while Fabio’s fascination with foreign cultures earned him a PhD in Sanskrit and Indian Studies. Their long academic career helped them connect with students when they decided to found their agency in 2016. Here they tell The PIE what it is like to be an education agent in Italy, and why Ireland is their first destination market.

 

"Programs...such as internships and apprenticeships will be more popular among clients and future learners"

The PIE: When did you found your agency Crewative and how did you get the idea?

PP&FB: We founded Crewative in September 2016. We wanted to see if we could have the same success as agents that we had as educators, so it was more of an opportunity for us to face new challenges and see if we could learn something from the experience. We wanted to develop what the change we envisaged in education through Crewative.

“We see ourselves as sommeliers of education”

In the Italian market, I think parents sometimes need to understand what makes an institution valuable for the education of their children, so a boutique agency is a pivotal element for the entire educational path of a young adult. We see ourselves as sommeliers of education – when clients come to us we ask a lot of different questions (their wishes, their tastes, etc.) and then when the image becomes clearer we offer the best solution for them, exactly as a sommelier does. We felt in a big agency this doesn’t happen, so we wanted to fill the gap. That’s why Crewative is “Solutions for Education”.

We think that we can help people to find opportunities they didn’t know exist. This is the work we want to do, helping people to discover and develop their talents in a world where any talent, so any individual, is important for a better society.

The PIE: What are your plans for the future of Crewative?

PP&FB: Crewative started from a European and Italian dimension of course. We have been always involved in projects that were mostly related to European issues and topics. But in the future, we would like to expand our market in Asia and consolidate the relations we have with the US and Canada where we started sending students last year. When it comes to learning English for example, it is quite easy to send students to UK and Ireland. What we would love to do now is to send our student to other countries and continents, because we have seen that in these cases the experience is much more nourishing and complete.

“Maybe it’s down to the character of the Irish people, who are very easy to work with, and similar to us Italians”

The PIE: Italy is the first source market for the UK – will this change after Brexit?

PP&FB: We do not see big changes for language courses of short periods of time, but for sure there will be some issues to face with when it comes to international projects at a European scale like Erasmus. And we saw some parents being sceptical when they had to choose the UK as the location for the university of their children because we do not know exactly what it will happen in terms of academic recognitions after 2019.

The PIE: You said Ireland is your first destination market as an agency – tell us more about it.

PP&FB: Ireland so far it has been our first destination and this for different reasons. In 2017 we met a very reliable partner, we sent several students to them and every time we got fantastic feedback. Also, Ireland, and especially Dublin now, enjoys a period of popularity inside different communities of young people. The cultural scene in Dublin is very dynamic, with many music and arts events, which makes Dublin very attractive.

Brexit of course helps – and also the euro compared to a strong pound again. Finally, maybe it’s down to the character of the Irish people, who are very easy to work with and in a way similar to us Italians. After the MEI last workshop in 2017, where we visited 30 schools, we are even more determined and motivated to send our students to Ireland.

“Crewative decided not to be part of any association yet”

What is it like being an education agent in Italy?

PP&FB: Being an agent in Italy requires a lot of patience and several different skills. It means at first being able to talk with different institutions, have good relationships with state schools of different grade and level. In terms of associations, Crewative decided not to be part of any association yet. This is mostly because we think we are too young and because we need to understand how the selection process works. It would be useful anyway to have an organisation in Italy preparing future agents, giving professional training and a certificate whose validity should be assessed by an independent Italian or foreigner institution in order to guarantee the quality and efficiency of the services provided. At the moment this doesn’t exist in Italy for agents and theoretically anybody can be an agent.

We would also like to see a impartial institution, such as EAQUALS for example, which inspects and establishes whether an organization fulfils all the requirements needed by an agency and could hopefully also supervise the processes of selections in state schools and institutions when language schools apply for tenders.

The PIE: What do you think Italian students find challenging when studying abroad and what can language schools and universities do to help them?

PP&FB: Italians are very adaptable when it comes to infrastructures and being far away, even on another continent, they are not afraid of distances very much. But when it comes to food and accommodation they can be very demanding and the same it is true for parents and families we work with. Some language schools in UK and Ireland, as well as in America, should improve the standards when it comes to food and accommodation, especially in host families. We do not see the same problem for the universities because in these cases students tend to find solutions on their own.

“Italians are very adaptable…but when it comes to food and accommodation they can be very demanding”

Usually, Italian students are very well accepted by the institutions because they perform quite well, adapt to the different educational paths – and socialise quite easily.

The PIE: How do you think the Italian market will change in the next 10-20 years? Will demand for English language courses abroad increase or decrease?

PP&FB: We think that technology will surely change the market, and of course the fact that the new generations are much more familiar with apps and websites for education, the fact that these websites are now of great quality and work with algorithms, the ability for young people to read and speak in English – all these factors our work less relevant to a certain extent.

But we are also very confident that our experience, our knowledge of the industry, is a pivotal element when it comes to offer our consultancy. This is a factor that it will make our job always necessary despite all the changes we will see in the next years in terms of Edtech.

Finally, we don’t think that the demand of English will decrease, but maybe it will be easier to learn English here in Italy, so programs more related to work-based settings as internships and apprenticeships will probably be more popular among clients and future learners. English will strengthen its role as more the medium to reach professional goals – rather than a mere skill to be learned.

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