A department store of knowledge
Would you know where to turn if you wanted a new profession or needed a specific certificate? In the Jakobstad region, the answer is obvious: Optima vocational education and training centre for young people and adults.
“Our aim is to educate our students to match the region’s business needs perfectly. This means we tailor our education to meet the needs out there. Our cooperation with working life is growing stronger all the time,” says Director Max Gripengberg.
At Optima, there are several study programmes covering areas from culture and humanities to hands-on technology. The Principal describes his school as a department store of knowledge, where the business sector is the supplier of jobs and the school is the supplier of know-how.
“Our most important task is to ensure that our students are equipped to find relevant jobs after they leave us. This is why it is so important for us to have a close cooperation with working life.”
Optima certainly seems to be doing the right thing –the school has been ranked as the best vocational upper-secondary education and training school in Finland, no less than eight times, by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
“We have also been given an award for being an “innovative and excellent VET provider” for our sustainable efforts and flexible learning methods. This is largely thanks to the efforts we have made to create a different kind of learning space. We have not been afraid to ask ourselves where, how and when learning actually takes place.”
The openness to learning appeals to students of all ages and people from all kinds of branches that want to change direction in life or who want to learn more in their current field of work.
“Many of our adult students come to us in order to obtain a certificate in a specific field, or to read up on a specific topic during a shorter course. This tells us that our matching really works, that we meet the needs of the community.”
“Our region has a strong export industry, which we will continue to support by providing knowledge through our students,” says Gripenberg.