Three in one
Finland’s vocational education is experiencing a period of historic change. The entire vocational upper secondary education field has recently been reformed, with new legislation at the beginning of 2018. The most significant reform relates to the laws governing the education of both young people and adults, which are to be consolidated into a single entity. At the same time, the financing system and degree structure of education have also been renewed.
“In Vaasa we decided to prepare for the changes in advance, and in 2017, we merged the Vaasa Vocational Institute, the Vaasa Adult Education Centre, and the regional apprenticeship training centre into a new educational entity called Vamia,” says Åsa Stenbacka, the principal at Vamia.
The merger brought about several new opportunities and advantages. According to Stenbacka, the most noteworthy advantage is a smoother and closer cooperation with employers in the area. It is easier for a single educational establishment of 7000 students to respond to labour market needs, and future employers can also influence the content provided in vocational studies. For example, the electrical engineering study module has already been further developed through a cooperation between the energy companies and the Vamia teachers, which has led to the addition of lean manufacturing and language teaching.
“The cooperation aims to be able to quickly respond to the needs of the labour market and to ensure that students learn precisely those skills that they will need in their future work life. This is why we have also increased the amount of workplace training,” Stenbacka explains.
At Vamia, education is built not only according to the development priorities of the labour market, but also based on those of each individual student. Importantly, the changes allow for the possibility to build a study path according to one’s own needs. According to Stenbacka, this possibility is one of Vamia’s core values.
“Flexible examination structures enable students to have better learning opportunities and a more direct path, not only towards a profession, but also to universities and universities of applied sciences. Occupational life has a need for vocationally trained students who have continued to study at the university level. This will enable us to educate even more diverse professionals.”