The first Leonardo-expert group from Finland participating in the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme, headed to the next host organisation; LVH Verband, in South Tyrol, Italy. It is a non-profit union of handcraft enterprises who organise national skills competitions and is responsible for training and sending Competitors to EuroSkills and WorldSkills Competitions.
The expert group consisted of; Skills Finland National Competition Manager Pekka Matikainen, Beauty Therapy Skill Manager Tea Lehtikevari, Metal Roofing Skill Manager Jari Mustikkamaa and Executive Director Tuomas Eerola from the Skills Trainers’ Academy. During the visit, the group had a chance to observe the education, training and skills competition system in the region as well as the business life surrounding it. They also had the opportunity to learn about the activities and structure of the organisation LVH Verband.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) is very highly valued in Italy and approximately 60% of students enrol in VET (when the average percentage in OECD countries is 40%). Although team South Tyrol doesn´t have many Competitors in skills competitions, it still manages to be on the same level as bigger countries/regions year after year. The range of medals is impressive evidence of South Tyrol´s power. The secret of success lies behind South Tyrol´s business life, which is comprised of small handcraft enterprises. Many Competitors are from family businesses where they have invested time in manual skills training. Long training periods are not even organised before the international competitions because the basis is so strong. The focus is on traditional craft trades as well as the achieved triumphs have a great commercial value for the enterprises where the victorious Competitors have worked.
The visitors and the hosts had a real opportunity to exchange and discuss the similarities and differences during the week. Probably the most striking difference between Finland and South Tyrol is that Skills Finland´s target is to support those skills which have not gained victories in recent competitions through participation in the competitions. The focus is spreading the quality in VET throughout the country. South Tyrol focuses on Competitors who have realistic possibilities of success in the competitions.
The goal of the project and the visit is to learn from each other – and that target has been achieved. At EuroSkills 2010 in Lisbon, Portugal we met with Mirko Cutri from LVH Verband and invitations to participate in each other´s national competitions were exchanged. Both the parties gained new ideas during the exchange period as we look towards WorldSkills London 2011!
Finland´s group members´greetings:
“The exchange period was very versatile and fruitful. Our group members were extremely satisfied with the trip as an experience and as a possibility to improve the occupational skills. LVH Verband and especially our host Thomas Pardeller´s hospitality made us feel very welcome. We warmly recommend this kind of an experience to everyone.”
To be continued…