Centria is developing new talents
Central Ostrobothnia is one of Finland’s biggest industrial and export regions. It is home to large industrial parks – Kokkola and Alholmen – and the majority of the country’s wood processing companies. Together they employ almost 8,000 people and have a combined annual turnover of four billion euros. Located in the same region, Centria University of Applied Sciences is part of a unique ecosystem.
To support the region in its growth and workforce needs, Centria is investing in engineering education as well as in research and development.
“Centria’s job is to listen to the local companies and take their needs into account in both education and research. Battery technology, robotics, artificial intelligence – these are just some of the topical themes that we are increasingly focusing on to produce more workers for the region”, says Jennie Elfving, Director of Education.
Centria’s campuses in Kokkola and Ylivieska offer engineering studies from mechanical and chemical to electrical and automation engineering. The interest in these programmes has been growing, and the number of both applicants and students has increased – also in English engineering programmes.
“23 percent of all our students are international – we have percentually more international students than any other university in Finland”, Elfving states.
As of now, 1,300 out of Centria’s 4,200 students study engineering. Although the national goal is to increase the percentage of people with higher education to 50 by 2030, the applicant numbers have been dropping everywhere but two universities, Centria included.
“In 2022, we had the biggest increase in applicants, almost 13 percent.”
Battery technology, robotics, artificial
intelligence – these are just some of the themes we are increasingly focusing on
According to Elfving, this is partly thanks to the flexibility Centria offers.
“When it comes to offering opportunities to study regardless of the time and place, Centria is a forerunner. By offering alternative ways to study, we make sure that there is a suitable option for everyone – including those who are already in the working life.”
On top of making studying more and more flexible, Centria has developed new educational programmes. The most recent addition to the engineering studies is a battery technology programme aimed at adults who already have a degree in the engineering field.
“This is the most extensive battery technology programme in Finland. Our region needs more know-how in modern energy solutions, and we want to offer engineers the opportunity to broaden their expertise. In addition, students without an existing degree in the field can specialise in battery technology in our chemical engineering bachelor’s programme”, Elfving says.
When new educational programmes are created, research and development play an important part in the process.
“Our R&D department had already researched battery technology, which gave us a good basis for building the new programme”, points out Marko Forsell, Director of Research and Development.
Our new battery technology programme is the most extensive in Finland
Centria has four R&D teams: Digitalisation, Production technology, Entrepreneurship and wellbeing, and Chemistry and bioeconomy. The research topics vary from AI, robotics, and 5G to circular economy and future working life skills.
“These teams are based on our region’s changing needs amid the green and digital transitions as well as Centria’s educational strengths. Our teachers participate in different R&D projects and take the knowledge into the classrooms”, Forsell says.
R&D is on national focus, as investing in it is deemed essential for businesses to keep up with the global competition. The goal is that by 2030, R&D’s share of Finland’s GDP is four percent – 11 billion euros. Right now, the share is 2,7 percent.
“Achieving this kind of growth requires a lot of new investments from both private and public sectors as well as more personnel in universities and companies. At Centria, we are striving to include our students in R&D projects even more than before, and make this career path possibility more visible”, Forsell states.