As a member body of the WISE – Working on Soft Skills for Employment project, Ikaslan Bizkaia has had the chance to get closely acquainted with the Finnish VET system at the project’s latest gathering, held last week in the city of Vaasa. This initiative, in which 7 European Union countries are taking part, revolves around exchanging best practice in relation to soft skills for employment.
Around thirty representatives from WISE’s different constituent bodies, from Finland, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Estonia, Norway and Portugal, came together on Tuesday 14 February at YA!, the Vocational College of Ostrobothnia, located in the regional capital of Vaasa. Susanna Vestling, the college’s international coordinator, got day one of our introduction to the Finnish VET system underway, looking at the models applied at the ostrobothnian college and Kpedu, the latter of which is located in central Ostrobothnia and is also a member of the WISE project. The Finnish system, which comprises competence-based units rather than training modules, offers a flexible approach shaped by the training body’s collaboration with the relevant industry. This helps to meet the region’s need for qualified workers.
Carina Kekäle, head of personal development and education and a teaching staff member at YA!, continued day one by explaining the college’s procedure for sharing staff teaching methodologies. Likewise, she went into detail about how she and her colleagues integrate workplace-based training into the curriculum, either as unpaid work experience through a training contract or as a paid apprenticeship whereby students complete training within a business under the college’s supervision.
On day two, the team moved on to Kokkola, the capital of central Ostrobothnia, to visit the aforementioned Kpedu college. Before showing the group round their facilities, Sirkku Purontaus, the head of the college, and Heidi Jokinen, head of internationalisation, gave an introduction to the college and its objectives. This is a college that offers specialised training in areas ranging from horse riding to audio-visual media. It has several dedicated spaces for these activities and cutting-edge technology such as equestrian simulators, television control rooms and studios with chroma keying facilities, equipped for live broadcasts.
The final day took place back at YA! on February 16, when the focus for the soft skills best practice exchange switched to e-learning and the use of online platforms. As well as a demonstration of the college’s own digital student platform, there was a presentation on different projects organised jointly between the college and other institutions to improve digitalisation.
The WISE project is an international project under the auspices of the Erasmus+ programme, subsidised by the European Union. It aims to help European VET colleges share their strategies for developing soft skills, which are key to students’ employability. The project is scheduled to come to an end after a final learning activity in Norway, due to take place between the 8th and 9th of May 2023.