Graduates with immigrant background are offered a new path to Finnish working life
“Some immigrants may have worked as engineers in their home countries for a long time and thus it is important to use their work contribution in Finland,” states Project Manager Pauliina Paukkala from Tampere University of Applied Sciences.
The new study path supports job applicants with immigrant background in finding their way to practical training, working life and further studies. The education is for immigrants with a foreign technical degree, for example engineers and other higher education graduates who have not found a clear path to the Finnish working life.
“We offer initial training, retraining and upgrading of qualifications and practical training possibilities for those who pass the entrance examination,” tell Paukkala and Senior Lecturer Matti Kivimäki from Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Kivimäki works as an expert in the project.
The initial training and retraining and upgrading of qualifications are organised by Turku University of Applied Sciences. The resulting model can also be used elsewhere, for example at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.
Personal study plans enable individual study paths
Students are admitted based on a Finnish-language entrance examination which consists of an interview. The entrance examination makes sure that they have sufficient language skills because both studies are conducted in Finnish. Students’ substance competence and motivation affect the student selection.
“We first offer the initial training. It ensures that students have sufficient Finnish language skills and study skills for studying and managing in the Finnish system,” clarify Kivimäki and Paukkala.
A personal study plan is made for every student admitted to retraining and upgrading of qualifications. According to Paukkala, the personal study plan offers an individual study path. The admitted students can modify their study plan with the student counsellor based on their personal backgrounds and strengths.
Kivimäki and Paukkala emphasise that if students already have sufficient study skills and Finnish language skills, they can immediately head for the retraining and upgrading of qualifications, which consist of professional studies for engineers.
“The starting point is students’ educational background. Students may have completed applicable professional studies, such as mechanical engineering studies, ICT studies, construction engineering studies or community development studies,” tells Paukkala.
“The retraining and upgrading of qualifications complement students’ foreign competences to fulfil the Finnish engineering education requirements,” Kivimäki explains the differences between the initial training and retraining and upgrading of qualifications.
The retraining and upgrading of qualifications take the academic year 2020-2021 and consist of 60 credits.
From practical training towards a job
The pilot initial training took place in spring 2020. The eleven initial training participants came from Iraq, Iran and Canada. Participants of the retraining and upgrading of qualifications came from Iraq, Iran and Ukraine.
The retraining and upgrading of qualifications began in autumn 2020 and are continuing with seven students. The spring 2021 includes a practical training primarily in industry. The pandemic poses its challenges to this.
“The practical training however aims at finding them employment which complies with their engineering knowledge and skills,” says Paukkala.
The students search for their practical training places by themselves but they gain help in making their CV and training on how to behave in job interviews. After completing the retraining and upgrading of qualifications, students receive a diploma of higher education.
“Such diplomas are an excellent addition with which job applicants can demonstrate their special competence in written. Diplomas of higher education are becoming more and more common,” tell Kivimäki and Paukkala.
Purpose is to find employment
Kivimäki and Paukkala hope that every student will find a job in their field.
“Immigrants need to find employment and enterprises have a growing need for multilingual and international experts of their field. These two needs should be combined. There is thus more and more need for such bridging projects now and in the future,” Kivimäki and Paukkala consider.
The administrator and coordinator of the project is Turku University of Applied Sciences. The project participants are the University of Turku and Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The ESF-funded project started in autumn 2019 and ends in 2021.
Pauliina Paukkala, Project Manager, School of Industrial Engineering, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, pauliina.paukkala [at] tuni.fi (), tel. 040 800 4257
Matti Kivimäki, Senior Lecturer, School of Industrial Engineering, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, matti.kivimaki [at] tuni.fi (), tel. 040 801 6649