Urban Growth in Vantaa – Creating Guidance Programs for Secondary Education

Project News

TEXT | Elina Salo

The project has progressed to the second stage. The target of this phase is to update skills of employees. During the spring, we had designed and piloted new types of guidance programs. Guidance programs are for motivating and guiding employees to get further education. Guidance is needed, because sometimes it would be hard to reach all relevant information. The jungle of information can be huge! People involved in the program are guided, supported and supervised by project work.

The development of the Guidance programs are made by city of Vantaa, Vantaa Vocational College Varia and the partner companies. The development work has been very business oriented. The development of the Guidance programs began with discussions with our five partner companies. The purpose of these discussions was to develop the pilot guidance programs based on the needs of each company and then to piece together the model of guidance program. With business-oriented approach and co-creation we gained valuable information for development work.

Piloting with partner companies

The most interesting pilot program was implemented with partner company called Infocare (IT company, more information infocare.com). There were some needs for updating skills for employees, for example one person without any qualification and some employees with outdated qualifications. Employees are skilled and very good at their jobs but formal qualifications weren’t up to date. Fresh qualification is valuable for both the employee and the employer.

With Infocare we organized an information session for employees. The session was held on April via Skype and it was attended by 12 persons. The content of the session was:

  • The education system in Finland
    • Adult education and training
    • Work-based learning
    • Apprenticeship training
  • Different vocational qualifications and units
  • Motivation part: benefits and profit of studying
    • Why study in Infocare?

The session includes some conversations and there was room for questions too. The hosts are three project specialists from Varia and Vantaa city and Infocare’s HR specialist was also involved as employer’s representative.

Feedback from those who participated in information session was collected through an e-survey. It showed that the session was perceived as useful, it inspired the development of competence and all respondents would recommend the same to their colleagues. The presentation of different vocational qualification was especially useful, according the feedback.

After the information session we had individual conversations with everyone who was willing. The conversations include more specific guidance for personalized study path. Some of these are already led to apprenticeship training contract and studying will start in autumn.

Developed model

Infocare pilot was good base for Guidance program model. At the moment the developed model includes parts:

  1. Initial discussion with the management. The goal of conversation is finding company’s need of competence development and discover suitable solutions. After initial discussions, an information session for employees or other services is planned.
  2. Information session on education and training opportunities: The event serves as a kick-off event for studying. The content of the information session is tailored as needed. The aim of information session is to increase information and study motivation of employees.
  3. Individual conversation: After the information session, the planning of an individual path with those who are willing to continue in the discussions. In addition, the experts from different field of vocational education and training as well as an employer representative will be involved if needed. Individual conversations can also start without the information session.

Specificity of the model

In Finland we have excellent vocational education and training services. There are great chances for adult education, work-based learning and diverse options for apprenticeship trainings. Nevertheless, these services are fairly low in use. I’m not sure why, but maybe one main reason might be unfamiliarity of the services. This is what we are trying to solve with our project. When we raise awareness of study opportunities, the employers and the employees will use these services more. Updating the skills would benefit both of them.

The specificity of this new model is comprehensiveness. By involving all parties in planning, implementation and valuation we can get all participants understand the benefits. The company gets fresh know-how and the individual improves his labour market value. Our job is finding balance between company growth and social investment in these services. This is how we get the employer and the employees to commit to competence development. The goal is common.

In this model, the project specialist will guide and support all parties throughout the process. The support is stronger than normal services and the project specialist works very actively in co-operation with the company.

During the autumn we will test the guidance programs in SME’s in Vantaa. First steps with SME’s have been promising and first experiences are great!

The article was originally published in the UIA Project News on August 18, 2020.