The Six City Strategy as a developer of employment and competence in Tampere

Photo: Laura Vanzo, Visit Tampere

Tools for solving the matching efficiency problem, enabling smooth employment paths, individual career guidance, network-like and multi-professional activities, engagement and customer-oriented activities… The 6Aika projects have experimented and developed competences and employment from various perspectives. The experience gained is especially useful now that efficient measures are required to fix the employment impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A high education or a long work experience does not, necessarily, guarantee the finding of employment. Even experienced jobseekers may have difficulties in recognising and offering their key competences, and employers cannot always describe precisely enough what they are looking for.

– The matching efficiency problem is real: there would be a great deal to do at companies, there are vacancies and a large number of jobseekers, but they don’t always match, says Petri Pekkola, who carried out brainstorming in the Stages and Workshops for Growth project.

The Stages and Workshops for Growth (a 6Aika project) addressed the matching efficiency problem with the help of challenges workshops. Companies that needed help in recruitment provided the workshops with challenges, and amongst jobseekers and graduating students, persons who had suitable competences were looked for. At workshops, the companies were able to see, in practice, which jobseeker was the most suitable for them.

– Consequently, the matching efficiency problem can be solved via the management of strategic competences. Both companies and jobseekers receive coaching in these skills, which affects employment in a positive way, Pekkola states.

Pekkola has a model that makes it easier to perceive and deal with the matching efficiency problem. The model is based on experience gained in projects like 6Aika and TreStart, regarding the cooperation with companies and those who have a higher educational degree.

In the model, the recognition and productisation of competences are always carried out on a case by case basis – tailored to a certain competence requirement and for available jobseekers. Pekkola emphasises that both an employer and a jobseeker must first find out about their own needs and what they can offer, and only thereafter can there be perfect encounters that lead to employment.

Smooth paths to working life in Job Pathways Finland experiments

6Aika: The target group of the Job Pathways Finland project was formed by young people who were completing their vocational studies in Tampere. The objective was to promote their employment. Job Pathways Finland carried out a large amount of network-like, multi-professional cooperation, together with other projects and actors who advanced the employment of young people. Operating models were tested and developed in a proactive manner.

– We didn’t just wait until young people completed their studies and, perhaps, became unemployed, but we were present at educational institutions, sparring and coaching young people, introducing skills dealing with working life and entrepreneurship and offering early support, says Project Manager Anne Kumpula.

One key principle of Job Pathways Finland was the engagement of young people in the planning and execution of measures. Young people acted as ambassadors of entrepreneurship, made career videos and carried out attitude campaigns – i.e., career guidance from young people to young people.

Individuality and customer-oriented activities

Individual services and customer-oriented activities showed their power in the Job Pathways Finland experiments. For example, it is necessary to provide early support when there is a risk of interrupted studies. Consequently, a 6Aika experiment provided students of Tampere Vocational College Tredu with individual career guidance and support in order to find a solution advancing the studies of each student. The student’s path is smooth when the employment network cooperates and adjusts its processes.

– Young people may not be left alone or left with nothing. If one actor is unable to help, there should always be a next actor who will catch the ball. Of course, the same applies to all customers: they should be actively guided to paths that advance their employment in the most rapid manner, Kumpula explains.

‘Customer perspective the first’ also applies to employers. It is worthwhile providing training in accordance with practical needs. A good example was the cooperation of Job Pathways Finland and Särkänniemi. Särkänniemi is an important employer of young people, and in the operating model of Job Pathways Finland, the students were able to advance their studies by working. With the help of apprenticeship contracts that are integrated with their degrees, students who carry out the basic studies in the restaurant and catering field were able to carry out some of their studies at summer jobs and, thereafter, they returned to their educational institutions in order to complete their studies.

– This is practical when a person who knows the field well coordinates the connections between working life and the educational institutions. The Särkänniemi model showed that it is possible to create training for the needs of companies and still integrate it with one’s degree, Kumpula says.

The experiences regarding connecting working life and studies are also useful because the idea of continuous learning has been discussed vividly in recent times. Competence development is currently required at various stages of one’s career, and learning should chiefly take place at workplaces and alongside work.

Employment management continues in a local government pilot

The lessons learned in the Job Pathways Finland project and its cooperation models can be utilised in a local government pilot for employment that starts in Tampere Region in 2021, when the employment management of young people is transferred to municipalities. The operating methods developed in Job Pathways Finland also serve other target groups, such as those who change their jobs as adults. This is why it is necessary to have tools for individual career guidance, as well as training models that are implemented together with working life.

– Sometimes, jobseekers need to take a longer route to employment: they look for motivation, the right field, they test the field, and they practise tasks in working life. In this context, both jobseekers and employers need support and guidance, Kumpula says.

The experiments in Job Pathways Finland and the other 6Aika projects have created a platform, cooperation and mutual understanding. On this basis, the local government pilot will be able to further develop practices that have been identified as good, both for the needs of jobseekers and the companies that provide employment.

At the same time, the view on ecosystem-based employment management has become stronger: the employment ecosystem includes the City of Tampere’s actors, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY), TE Office, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) and various multi-sector service structures, educational institutions, third sector actors and companies. Local partnerships are required in order to make employment management efficient.

Petri Pekkola has acted as the service manager of the City of Tampere’s Employment and Growth Services and has continued, in the early 2021, as an expert of the matching efficiency services. Pekkola acted in Tampere as the superior of the Stages and Workshops for Growth project and the Digipore project (6Aika projects).

Since the autumn of 2020, Anne Kumpula has acted as project manager at Tampere Vocational College Tredu. At 6Aika in Tampere, Kumpula acted as the project manager of the Job Pathways Finland project and the Work Hub project.

The Job Pathways Finland project in Tampere:

– The part implemented by the City of Tampere particularly promoted the employment of vocational students during their studies and when they completed their studies. New collaborative services and operating methods were created together with the City of Tampere’s Employment and Growth Services and Tampere Vocational College Tredu.

– The part implemented by Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) tested and developed an operating model in which young people who were graduating or who had just graduated and were under a threat of unemployment or unemployed participated in team coaching in which skills dealing with entrepreneurship and working life were encouraged. In the coaching, young people’s plans and skills dealing with entrepreneurship were supported and they identified and developed their own strengths. The subprojects of the City of Tampere and TAMK linked to each other.

The objective of the Stages and Workshops for Growth project was to test and create an operating model in order to improve the employment of highly educated people and find solutions for the development challenges faced by companies.

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