Intensifying cooperation between operators and expanding networks
Supported Apprenticeship Model
The project developed the Supported Apprenticeship Model in cooperation with working life and apprenticeship services. The model allows students with an immigrant background to complete the Vocational Qualification in Education and Instruction or the Vocational Qualification in Youth and Leisure Instruction as an apprenticeship. The project partnered with Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute and the Church Training College.
The three objectives of the model benefit students, employers and the City of Helsinki. Students with an immigrant background receive support in finding an apprenticeship and completing a degree. An apprenticeship typically starts from the student’s own initiative. Finding a suitable job is challenging for individuals who have moved to Finland if they do not yet have established networks and knowledge of working life in Finland.
The funding for the pilot is based on pay subsidies, increased training compensation and the Helsinki supplement, which is paid for a student residing in Helsinki. The funding model is affordable to employers and encourages them to hire employees with an immigrant background.
From the perspective of the City of Helsinki, the model improves awareness of the City’s services in cooperation with organisations within immigrant communities that are not efficiently reached by services and guidance. The model trains more resources for multilingual service counselling and advice while simultaneously strengthening the cooperation between the City and organisations.
Students’ access to service counselling and advice was supported with special training on the City’s services and counselling, produced by the Applying talents project.
The participants in the model included 14 students and a total of 10 NGOs: Al-Birr Lähimmäisapu; African Care; Helsinki YMCA; Nicehearts; the Multicultural Women’s Association, Finland (MONIKA); Monik; the Finnish Refugee Council; Suomen venäjänkielisten keskusjärjestö and the Finnish-Syrian Friendship Association. Seven of the students graduated in summer 2019.
The employer organisations that participated in the model had a positive attitude towards the model’s continuation. The capability of organisations to also participate in the model in the future could be improved by improving the funding’s predictability. The project has sought to contribute to the removal of the 10-month limitation in the Helsinki supplement.
Forming operator networks
The project formed networks between operators that support immigrants in Helsinki through the preparation of a joint event: agencies of the City of Helsinki that have contact with the target group, agencies that support the target group’s employment, and experts and representatives of organisations who have contact with the target group. The national Integration 2018 conference was chosen as the joint event.
The project participated in the organisation of Integration 2018 in extensive cooperation with organisations, ministries and municipalities. Integration 2018 was the first networking event in Finland to be intended for the entire national integration sector. There were a total of 17 organisers.
The event strengthened partnerships between government agencies, the third sector and the business community. The event was held at Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki on 18 and 19 September 2018. There were a total of 900 participants on both days.
The event programme comprised of the following themes: education, employment, inclusion, well-being and housing, and the reception of refugees. The programme also featured presentations intended for everyone, related activities, a decision-maker panel and an exhibition hall with tabletop displays. International guests were provided with simultaneous interpretation, and the event was livestreamed.
The Applying talents project was prominently featured in the exhibition hall together with the other operators of the City of Helsinki. This allowed it to market its functions, such as the Discover Helsinki application, which was also pitched as part of one of the programme themes. Integration 2018 received praise from participants and the European Commission for its implementation and content.
Development of Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute
The Applying talents project supports the development of Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute in order to promote the education and employment prospects of non-Finnish-speaking applicants and students at risk of social exclusion. The project worked to develop the multicultural knowledge of Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute’s staff. The special needs of the institution’s students and aspiring students from an immigrant background were taken into account better in the training programmes and their selection criteria. The support measures provided by the institution to students with an immigrant background were improved.
In autumn 2017 and spring 2018, the project provided pedagogical support in teaching groups of Helsinki Vocational Adult Institute that include a great number of students who speak Finnish as a second language. Pedagogical support was provided for training programmes in cleaning and property services as well as the Further Vocational Qualifications in Special Needs Education and Morning and Afternoon Activities. The project planner observed teaching in groups and interviewed the head of the vocational division, teachers, students and working life representatives. Based on these interviews, the project produced a report on pedagogical solutions and proposals for development.
According to the reports, the selection criteria for the training programmes offered by Helsinki Vocational Adult Institute failed to take the capabilities of non-Finnish-speaking students to complete the degree into account sufficiently. The selection of students with suitable capabilities must be ensured in student selections, while applicants with insufficient capabilities must be provided with preparatory training that best supports them before they become degree students.
The varying learning capabilities and language skills of the students must be taken into account in the teaching arrangements. Differentiated and personalised teaching is emphasised in order for teaching to be targeted at various client groups. Differentiation allows for a part of a qualification to be completed at a different pace, depending on the client base. The differentiation of groups must be based on identified language and learning capabilities, rather than the status of being an immigrant or a native Finn.
The preparation of joint practices and having students become familiar with them from the start of their studies promotes the building of a safe, high-quality learning environment in which the ground rules of study regarding things such as prayer times, lesson start times and breaks are known to everyone. It is also important for students to be informed that praying is allowed at the institution and that there is a positive attitude towards it. It is a right and an obligation. At the institution, praying times must be scheduled to take place during breaks and times agreed upon in advance, similarly to working life. This also orients students with working life practices.
The knowledge of the institution’s personnel was strengthened with training modules on multiculturalism and equality. In spring 2018, the project planner provided the personnel with training on the meeting of cultures and religions in teaching. In late 2018 and spring 2019, the project’s project planner participated in a working group comprised of experts from Helsinki Skills Center, which prepared and implemented a training module on cultural diversity at Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute. The training module was part of the PedaBooster training programme intended for all personnel of the institution. The purpose of the training programme was to update the personnel’s knowledge of current themes.