Since 2016, SIMHE-Metropolia has been actively developing and modelling its services to find out ways to improve highly educated immigrants’ education and employment possibilities in Finland. The number of customers at SIMHE-Metropolia has risen steadily over the past two years totalling in over 550 users for Guidance and Counselling and Recognition of Competences services in 2017.
Creating a sustainable yet flexible method for recognising immigrants’ competences
SIMHE-Metropolia first piloted recognition of competences for highly educated immigrants in the field of technology in spring 2016 with some 30 customers to establish what would be the best method and participant criteria for the process. The current method, Mapping of Competences, has now been carried out in the fields of technology and business thrice since autumn 2016 with some 150 customers. The choice of fields was based on them not being regulated professions in Finland and Metropolia offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in both fields.
Mapping of Competences is managed and conducted by SIMHE-Metropolia. The field-related expertise is provided by heads of degree programmes or departments who work in the fields of technology and/or business at Metropolia.
In autumn 2017, the Mapping of Competences service was also offered for suitable customers through Public employment and business services (TE Services) in Uusimaa region with almost 60 customers along with some 25 customers who entered the process through SIMHE-Metropolia’s own registration path. The continuation of the cooperation with TE Services is yet to be realised later in 2018.
Recognition of Prior Learning is also needed for those not currently in higher education
Recognising existing skills and competences is not a new concept in university of applied sciences as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is strongly supported in study planning for example at Metropolia to create individual learning paths for degree students. SIMHE-Metropolia’s service thus augments and modifies RPL concept to highly educated immigrants who are not able to use such services as they are not registered in higher education institution in Finland.
The official Recognition and Comparability of International Qualifications is conducted by Finnish National Agency for Education whereas SIMHE-Metropolia’s service aims at taking a more practical approach for recognising competences by helping customers to make their foreign qualifications and competences also more familiar to the Finnish employers.
Self-knowledge and understanding of the Finnish context make a difference
Education is highly appreciated in Finland, but being a highly educated immigrant in Finland does not always result in swift access to education or work. Immigrants often lack an inherent knowledge of the Finnish society and culture, they may lack sufficient language skills to enter in their field of expertise, and most importantly, they are not certain how their existing competences match with the Finnish requirements. Even though educated immigrants are needed in the Finnish labour market, we tend to run somewhat homespun and closed labour market in Finland (Kauppalehti 29.1. 2018).
As customers are in a centre in Mapping of Competences, the aim is to offer both individual encounters in addition to group meetings throughout the process by helping customers to
- understand how their formerly acquired skills and competences match with the Finnish requirements
- find suitable educational paths, when applicable
- support employment and obtain information and ideas on various ways for job-search in Finland
- be able to express their competences better
Now I know, where I am
SIMHE-Metropolia’s customers share common features like high level of education and being of foreign origin, but they are yet a very heterogeneous group of people with varied backgrounds, hopes and dreams how to live their lives in Finland. The best achievement over the past two years we have run the service, is to see how we have been able to empower people and give them tools for building possible career paths.
Now that we have developed the ways to support self-knowledge and growth in more localised professional identity through our services, the next steps are to create even more ways to match the job-searching talents with those in need of skilled workforce. The existing events like Recruitment and Matching Morning by COME project help immigrants to meet up and network with employers-to-be.
The road is still rocky and bendy, yet a lot has been accomplished by far. The most important thing is to include immigrants to the Finnish society by not always emphasising what they may not have, but rather embrace a feeble question raised by one of our customers: What if I am perfect already?
Maahanmuuton vastuukorkeakoulutoiminta Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2017:38
Työ- ja elinkeinoministeriön julkaisuja.Työelämä 36/2017 Maahanmuuttajien koulutuspolkujen nopeuttaminen ja joustavat siirtymät -työryhmän loppuraportti ja toimenpide-esitykset
Kauppalehti 29.1. 2018
Mäki, Kimmo. 5.12. 2017 Osaamme sanoittaa osaamista