Prepared for working life! (VALTE) – Oulu regional seminar of the nation-wide ESR development project

Prepared for working life! (VALTE) project arranged a seminar in late 2016 to inform stakeholders about the project and to listen for ideas, and to promote working life preparedness of future professionals. VALTE project’s actors in Oulu include the University of Oulu (OY), the Oulu University of Applied Sciences (OAMK) and the Oulu Vocational College (OSAO). The actors were represented by Seppo Väyrynen (OY), Maria Lindholm (OY), Eija Rajakangas (OAMK), Liisa Kiviniemi (OAMK), and Heli Laitila (OSAO). Each actor group had invited representatives of different important working life stakeholders to influence and to bring out important views and ideas. The seminar managed to secure a wide and lively participation and resulted in obtaining welcome stakeholder viewpoints. A total of 66 people attended the seminar. The participants represented companies and other work places, labour market organisations, students, teachers, researchers, developers and other interest groups, including authorities and research institutions covering many sides of the society.

The event was opened by professor Seppo Väyrynen (OY), planning chief Seija Lehto (OSAO), and senior teacher, Dr. Liisa Kiviniemi (OAMK), emphasising particularly the collaboration of different level educational institutions and developing the digitalisation of people to be sufficiently considered in work places and everyday life. The speeches by companies and industrial employers' associations were given by Kimmo Ahonen, technical chief of the northern district unit of Skanska Plc, and by Tuula Sivonen, district chief of the Northern Finland unit of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries. Ahonen emphasised the strong commitment of the international company, and practical models and achievements in the safety management. Sivonen listed the expectations of the technology industry for staff and leaders. "The leaders must have an ability for comprehensive management −especially the ability to inspire and make staff to commit themselves to operate by the company values and the sustainable development.”

The speeches of the organisation of wage earners were given by the regional manager of Northern Finland Vesa Saarinen of SAK (The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions), organisation specialist Anne Pelkonen of Tehy (The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals), and education policy and labour policy analyst Arttu Piri of TEK (Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland). Pelkonen emphasised the work community skills that are learned already in the educational institutions. Whereas, Piri highlighted the importance of the practice and working experience during studies, and that the differently acquired work experience could be given credits in a cooperation with industry and universities. Saarinen pointed out that in most workplaces about half of the staff comes from the vocational schools.

The event included workshops where participants were divided according to their background. The workshop themes included: 1) The attraction of the work, 2) Visions of the collaboration of three educational institution levels, 3) Occupational safety today and tomorrow, 4) Working life skills expected from a recent graduate? Industry and services (public and private), 5) Professional interaction at work in the 2020's –frictionless communication.

At the end of the afternoon, the chairpersons of each workshop theme summarised the results. The results were briefly commented by researcher Maria Lindholm (OY), education planner Heli Laitila (OSAO), chairperson of the board Arja Saarento of OP Financial Group, and researcher Petri Palmu of The Trade Union Pro. The views that were particularly highlighted included the importance of students forming a positive approach towards the work places and bringing out the strengths of their educational institution and themselves. VALTE matters were seen to be linked to worldwide sustainable development and corporate responsibility.

Seppo Väyrynen & Maria Lindholm

Last updated: 2.5.2017