The Vaasa Vocational Institute’s main goal is to train experts for working life. It must therefore maintain a close dialogue with the business community.
“As we build qualifications, it’s vital to receive from employers messages about what they need. After all, we are not educating for our own sake,” says Åsa Stenbacka, Principal of Vaasa Vocational Institute.
The Vocational Institute’s studies include a lot of on-the-job training. The intention is for employers not to have to train new graduates further to enable them to start work; when they leave the institute, the students really possess the necessary skills to begin their working careers immediately.
Career orientation also promotes a better opportunity for flexibility when transforming study credits into real skills. The key thing is what you can do, not how long you have been studying.
“Students can have a lot of previously acquired skills, for example from summer jobs or language immersion. In such cases, we allow them to prove their expertise and progress in their studies faster than others,” explains Stenbacka.
The focus is on skills, even at the early stage of studies when a personal study plan is prepared, and previous knowledge and expertise are identified. Students may be given an examination to enable them to demonstrate their competence in a particular field.
Stenbacka is delighted about the high standard of vocational training in Finland. Vaasa Vocational Institute often receives visitors from different countries, who want see how education is arranged.
Multilingualism and multiculturalism have a strong presence in Vaasa Vocational Institute, and teaching is in Finnish, Swedish and English. Internationality is also promoted by training preformed abroad.
“The people of the area understand the need for internationality. In many workplaces, you have to be able to speak three languages,” says Stenbacka.
Versatility, in Stenbacka’s view, is an asset not only within the vocational institute, but in society as a whole.
“Take the wind power industry, for example. They need many kinds of experts, not only graduates from one training programme. And in connection with the energy cluster, you hear a lot of talk about engineers, but the fact is that every link in the chain is valuable and important.”
VAASA VOCATIONAL INSTITUTE
Business sector: Vocational education