Finland in International Trade – Competence? (#98/100)

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Very interesting indeed to read about The 90 facts of Finland in the International Trade, thank you very much #ICC90 and Aalto University.

I just have to intervene into one more thing this year in our TAKK International Blog. Now, no matter what competence we develop here in the depths of TAKK and other VET providers, if our trained professionals do not develop international trade, we are doomed to the depths. Finland used to manage the internal finances by exchanging squirrel skins to bread and butter. Those times are sooo passé that we cannot even figure out how gone. I would love to say that please, produce yourself everything that you use, but the economy just does not keep up that way nor does to community without taxes. Naturally, the commerce can be done online, sustainably and also moderately, but all in all, for the GDP, export has to exceed the import or in other terms, we have to use less than we make. That is the layman truth, well, don’t we know that in VET.

Few reflections on competence development for the international trade on the basis of the study. Fact: EU-Exports make 17% of jobs in Finland. Message? Continue developing the flow of EU projects and mobilities. Fact: Export-related jobs employ mainly medium skilled (59%) workers. That is our graduates. Message? Keep on making students understand how important the export trade to Finland is. Fact: The top 3 foreign countries operating in Finland by end-2015 are: 1) Sweden 2) USA 3) Germany. Message? Do not let the European language skills fade in VET, Swedish and German are very much there on the front. For more interesting specifics, pls see the report.

PS. I love it the way they say in their report, ”We all are the Merchants of Peace” and ”We believe that trade can strengthen relation between nations” (slide 4). Hearts to You all in the report team.

Digging into the VET Legislation with Glogg (#97/100)

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

The Law on Vocational Education and Training (531/2017) inspired a dozen of internationally-oriented VET professionals and national administrators of education yesterday over the hot mugs of glogg in Omnia, Espoo (thank you, Mervi, Kirsi and Katri). The event ”Lakia ja glögiä” (Law and glogg) or ”Lakikinkerit”, of which the latter is extremely difficult to translate**, focused on understandig and interpreting the fresh VET legislation in the right format for global education purposes and more specifically, for qualification-based global education.

Glogg helps the study of law…

The law is clear: We are allowed to sell Finnish secondary level qualifications outside of EU and EEA. After that, it gets more interesting. Thanks to the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and their lawyer, we got some more understanding to the various articles of the law. Hey, there are 14 chapters and 142 articles on the law to understand, so for a VET professional, that is a big nut to crack.

Individualisation (henkilökohtaistaminen) is The Big Clue of the Finnish VET.

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Christmas Brunch (#96/100)

Breakfast and lunch digested into one meal, makes up the brunch of TAKK, the TAKK style. Brunch turns into ”brunssi” in Finnish, which is a ”Finnslation” of the word. Originally the word ”brunch” came up in the context of the late 1800’s partyswingers, having the first meal of the day slightly later on Sunday (fits also the Finnish ”pikkujoulu”, little Christmas). However, our brunch in TAKK has no prior party agenda, nor the cheerfulness of the socialites. We’ve had out breakfast before the ”brunssi” and we will work for the whole day.

Brunching in TAKK

TAKK brunch today gathered together a whole bunch of brunchers – both students and staff members of TAKK. There were many typical breakfast items served, such as rice pastries, eggs, rye bread and fruits, but also the approaching Christmas was there on the serving tables: rice porridge with cinnamon, ham slices, glogg (glögi) and bundt cake. Pls see here for yourself.

10 days to Christmas.

Experience of ”Learning Together” (#95/100)

Yhdessä oppien in TAKK

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Colleagues in TAKK have had an opportunity to be trained this fall in a unique training programme called Yhdessä oppien or ”Learning Together”. The programme has produced pedagogical solutions, to be directly applied in VET, thus making the way smoother for the immigrant students of TAKK. The name Learning together comes from the theme of co-creating the cross-cultural competence between and with the colleagues for the integration training needs. The needs concern many areas: learning the language, integrating into the society, preparing for the vocational studies and acquiring vocational competence for the working life, including qualifications.

I say unique, because there is a deep understanding of cross-cultural competence behind this programme.

The driver and teacher of the programme, Ms Mari Poikolainen, has drawn insight from anthropology into practice. The series of sessions have followed each other. First (1), Immigrant student in the application phase, second (2), Acquiring the competence in training, third (3), Learning at the workplace and fourth (4), Passing a qualification. The programme has organised sessions, where TAKK trainers have learnt from each other; paving the way for the individual study paths for students of immigrant background; and most of all, have shared the experiences between the integration phase teachers and vocational trainers.

Experience I say, as no matter what and how much you have studied (anthropologist here, too), you can never acquire the competence and understanding before you have lived through and discussed the everyday problems with your colleagues in the same situation. TAKK spirit here certainly helps: Ask, and you will be answered. There are many solutions the knowledgeable trainers have discovered along the way and here – by the coffees and sandwiches – they have been shared.

Thank You, Mari P.

Independent Finns 100 years (#94/100)

Lighting the two candles for Finnish Maiden at 18 hrs

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Birthday is always a time to go back the memory lane. To recall how the concerned person got there. As the celebrated character today is a country – Finland – we have to go back a hundred and more years to the times of not being independent as a state, to the troubled times, to sad events and sorrow FOR and INSIDE the nation. Rolling down the road to present days in Finland, there were the years of reconstruction, remaking the souls and the buildings in 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s and still in 1950’s. I wonder whether this all has made us a people with such lamenting songs and gloomy ballads – or is it in the character of Finns? However, there have been many wonderful occasions and matters in Finland throughout these years: solid education for all, good care for the elderly, fancy sports events, creation of many natural parks and engineering competence wonders – to name a few of the brand factors.

Finland is often seen and discussed as Finnish Maiden (Suomi-neito), as Finland geographically DOES seem like a maiden, raising one arm (used to raise two). She was originally called Aura, as the Aura River in Turku, the old capital of Finland. So as a matter of fact, we are celebrating the 100 years of Aura, the blue and white lady with bright eyes, a lot like the Aurora of fairytales; sunrise. Finnish Maiden is a classical guardian character, as so many people around the earth have. Some might even call her the Mother Earth or Finland.

I am wishing this lady, Finnish Maiden now a beautiful birthday, with loads of wisdom and kindness of heart in all local and global matters. I wish she will stay still when the suspicious minds fight at each other, I wish she will be the negotiator of many conflicts as before, I wish she will carry on protecting the mattimeikäläinen (or Joe Public of UK, Pepito Pérez of Spain, Si Anu of Malaysia, Pierre Dupont of France…), I wish she will be the real lady she has been and still is. And I wish she never loses her SISU, the miraculous strength we all live by when all other energy is lost.

To balance the nostalgy and eloquence of the previous lines, let’s take a piece of poem by Jorma Etto, Suomalainen (Finn) with translation of mine there below:

“Suomalainen on sellainen joka vastaa kun ei kysytä,

kysyy kun ei vastata, ei vastaa kun kysytään,

sellainen joka eksyy tieltä, huutaa rannalla

ja vastarannalla huutaa toinen samanlainen: metsä raikuu, kaikuu, hongat humajavat.”

-Jorma Etto


[A Finn is one that replies when not asked,

asks when not replied to, does not reply when asked,

one who loses track, shouts on the shore

and on the opposite shore there is one just the same: the forest blares, echoes, the pinetrees hum.]

Saunas of TAKK (#93/100)

Nirva C sauna stove

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Remember the blogs of Coffee (#40) and Winter (#80)? Well, one very important Finnish element is missing: SAUNA. How could I have forgot it until blog #93? Almost as impossible as forgetting your own head – in Finland.

Saunas and us. History of sauna in very brief, in size of this blog. Sauna [sauna], not [soona], is most likely the most sacred place of the Finns (forest is a bad competitor). It used to be the cleanest place in the home, the warmest (well, yeah) and the most spiritual one. Did-you-know that the name sauna refers to the stove, pack of hot stones that gives you the steam with water thrown on the pile. Sauna in the olden days was the place to be born in, to smoke meat, to wash clothes, to dry grains and to be washed for the last time before the eternal journey, to mention perhaps the most important functions. Even nowadays, you do not curse in the sauna, as the sauna elf (saunatonttu) might get mad at you and then the hell is loose. All in all, sauna is a haven and perhaps even a heaven to many.

Saunas of TAKK. There are three of them (to my knowledge). I am not sure whether they are cleaner than the rest of the premises or whether they are very spiritual places, but we sure warm them up many times a month, do not dare to curse there (too much), some of us are “reborn” there after the working hours and sometimes we enjoy grain there in a more refined form – after working hours, of course. Many meeting are finished by having a TAKK sauna, pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) is certainly started in all TAKK saunas and recreation days are nothing without the sauna.

PS. I do have to add SISU on the list. More about that in #94.

Here Comes The Sun! (#92/100)

by Tailee See, TAKK trainee

Since end October, the daily weather has been gloomy, it’s either raining, snowing or misty and the day becomes shorter, night gets longer.  My daily mood is also following the flow of the seasonal weather.  During the spring and summer time, I could feel everything come to live, birds chirping with joy, flowers blooming, rabbits hopping around the garden, ducks swimming in the lake, young ladies in colourful summer clothes, parading their colourful hairs.  But they all slowly disappeared when season changed.  As for me, I feel like a slowly deflated balloon, losing its energy of staying afloat in the air.

Gloomy late fall, last day of November…

Ooh…I need to stay optimistic.

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