The Deploying Competence in Finland project aims to boost the employment of immigrants with higher education

An enormous amount of competence is wasted in Finland, because highly educated immigrants often fail to secure employment that matches their competence and education. The goal of Deploying Competence in Finland, a project funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education, is to provide continuing education for immigrants and increase their employment.

The project involves Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, which is the project coordinator, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, the University of Helsinki, the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa as well as the Uusimaa TE Office. The cooperation partners also include several companies, since the studies include practical training in the field.

The project encompasses five study paths. Laurea teaches service competence in tourism and hospitality, Haaga-Helia focuses on demanding personal selling, Metropolia teaches supervisory skills in the real estate and construction sector as well as nursing work, while the University of Helsinki addresses early childhood education and care.

The studies in sales, service competence and real estate and construction are part of the 3AMK subproject. This is the first time that they are offered in this way. A lack of workforce has been identified in all these fields.

Inadequate skills in the Finnish language are often a hindrance to employment. All the project’s study paths will be offered in Finnish only, and the studies will also include studies in the Finnish language. However, students must have adequate language skills at the beginning of studies. The studies will also introduce students to Finnish legislation, in addition to which students will create contacts with workplaces, for example through work placement.

The project was preceded by the SIMHE (Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education) project, which is still running. The higher education institutions responsible for supporting immigration aim to identify the competence of immigrants and to guide them towards suitable education and career paths.

3AMK study paths presented at the information event

An informative event on the study paths, organised in early April, was attended by ten or so participants. Oksan Niemi, Project Manager of the Deploying Competence in Finland project, knows how difficult it can be for an immigrant to find employment.

Niemi moved to Finland from Turkey at the age of 18. She completed a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in social sciences at the University of Tampere. The world of higher education has opened doors for her, and she understands that learning Finnish can be challenging.

Pirjo Pitkäpaasi, Senior Lecturer in sales, is enthusiastic about the project. She has been teaching demanding personal sales and selling at Haaga-Helia for more than a decade.

“My goal for the future is to increase the appreciation of sales. This can be done by making sales competence more visible,” she said at the event.

Pitkäpaasi hopes that the study path she represents will receive many applications, because good salespeople are needed in all fields. In the sales path, the applicants’ higher education degree can be from any field. The weightiest factor is the applicants’ interest in gaining proficiency in sales work, in which they can put their prior degree to use.  

The studies in service competence focus on the customer and customer needs. Marjo Pääskyvuori, guidance counsellor and Senior Lecturer in the service competence path, pointed out that Laurea’s restaurants offer a safe introduction to the work environment, since mistakes are allowed in an educational setting.

Finland, too, has numerous professionals in real estate and construction, including those with studies from a higher education institution. The goal of the programme starting at Metropolia is to add to the competence of immigrants who have completed a degree outside Finland so that they can perform expert and supervisory duties in the real estate and construction sector. 

The studies included in the 3AMK subproject are scheduled to begin in early September. They will last for one semester. The deadline for applications is at the end of April.