Aihearkisto: yrittäjyys

Learning new skills through Finnish vocational and professional qualifications in China

 has launched two diploma programs with new Chinese partners during autumn 2019. Programs are joint efforts with EduCluster Finland.

Entrepreneurship as an exciting learning method

At Shanghai Modern Circulation School, 35 third-year business students aged 18-19, began studies in marketing communication and content production in October 2019 in accordance to the Finnish Vocational Qualification in Business. The program highlights entrepreneurship as a method in learning new skills and competences and gives a chance to complete one accredited Finnish module in business.

As a part of the program, students establish so-called mini-companies and learn the required competences by running those companies. Entrepreneurship is an efficient learning method. In addition to acquiring competence specific to business, students learn so-called 21st century skills like problem-solving, collaboration, communication.

The program is run by two Gradia experts, Ms Johanna Ärling and Ms Elina Maukonen, both working as business teachers at Gradia. They shared their observations and experiences just after their first two-week session in China.

Johanna tells that the training program is based on teamwork and hands-on exercises.
“Students really like the idea of learning by doing and having less traditional theory lectures. In our program, they have a permission to make mistakes and to learn from them. They appreciate the possibility of working in teams and sharing and testing their own ideas with working life representatives.”

Johanna and Elina have paid attention to the differences in Finnish and Chinese VET systems. In China the system is teacher-centered whereas in Finland we emphasis student-centeredness.” Teachers are running the classes in a traditional way and students are less active during the classes than in Finland.”

The Finnish pedagogy challenges the Chinese students to learn differently “They need to be active all the time, figuring out the answers and ideas by themselves,” says Elina. “Naturally a different learning and teaching culture challenges us Finnish teachers but once students get used to collaborative, hands-on learning methods, the results are very good,” adds Johanna who is experienced in running training programs in China.

Although there are some differences, there are lot of similarities as well. “Both in Finland and China we all want our students to have a good chance to find a job after the graduation,” says Johanna.

According to Johanna and Elina, Finnish VET qualifications are well applicable for the Chinese market. Finnish qualifications are competence-based and the competences are not dependent on national boundaries. “But since Chinese are not familiar with competence-based structured qualifications we need to explain the system and contents carefully and make them easy to understand.”

Johanna and Elina say that they have learnt a lot by working as an expert overseas. “We have learnt e.g. about the Chinese business life, education and culture. But certainly, to match training with local needs, more information is still needed. More information and experiences we have the better programs we are able to provide.”

Enhancing school-company collaboration

Development of school-company collaboration is one of the national priorities in Chinese vocational education and training. Cooperation is essential in increasing the quality and attractiveness of vocational education. Finland as a forerunner in developing different kind of work-based learning models has lot to share. Therefore, Gradia has developed the teacher training program called Skills Broker to improve the match between training provision and the needs of the industry. The first Skills Broker Teacher training program was successfully piloted in China in 2018-2019.

In September 2019, Gradia launched Skills Broker program for 30 teachers from Changzhou Technical Institute of Tourism and Commerce. Teachers are developing cooperation with local enterprises using the methodology of service design. The program has been aligned with a service design module from the Finnish Specialist Qualification in Product Development. Teachers who pass the program successfully will get an accredited Finnish diploma of completing part of the qualification. The program consists of intensive weeks in Changzhou, distance learning (team and development work) and competence assessment.

Ms Maritta Kinnunen, working as a lead expert in Skills Broker program shares the experiences of Johanna and Elina. “In China it seems that the education is more teacher-centered than in Finland – whereas we have an emphasis on student-centered learning and teaching. This means that the teachers in Skills Broker program are not only getting tools to develop school-company collaboration but also tools for promoting student-centered methods in their own teaching.”

More information Kirsi Koivunen (at)

Two European Recognitions for Gradia’s Entrepreneurship Learning Models

The Awards for VET Excellence 

The entrepreneurship learning ecosystem of Jyväskylä Educational Consortium Gradia has been selected as the best in Europe. The selection was announced at the main event of the European Vocational Skills Week at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on Thursday evening 17 October 2019. This is an award for excellence in vocational education and training. 

The awards are given in 12 categories and their aim is to recognise excellence, provide visibility and recognition for good work done, motivate those taking part, whether individuals or organisations, enable the building of networks and new career opportunities, enable the winners to become ambassadors in their field of expertise, and reach out to citizens through online voting.

A jury of independent members was established in each category. The various juries each identified 2(or 3) nominees and indicated their respective winner. A public online voting was organised. The 2019 award winners were selected through a mix of votes from the jury, and the general public, both results weighting 50%. The final results in all categories were revealed on 17 October during the Awards Nominees Celebration.

By rewarding an entrepreneurship learning model, EU wants to encourage vocational education and training institutions to invest in entrepreneurship training. An entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurship competences reinforce the ability of young people to cope with the future of work.  

The European Vocational Skills Week was now celebrated for the fourth time. The aim of the week is to disseminate European-wide information on vocational training, organise events and share recognition of excellence in vocational education and training. 

The Entrepreneurial School Awards 2019 

In addition, on the previous evening, Gradia received the Entrepreneurial School Award from Junior Achievement Europe. Junior Achievement (JA) is the world’s largest organisation providing entrepreneurship and consumer education for young people. In Finland it is represented by Junior Achievement Finland.  

The Entrepreneurial School Awards is an annual recognition by JA Europe, which aims to provide a supportive and motivational framework to guide education providers, headmasters and teachers from across Europe in their entrepreneurial learning initiatives. 

The Entrepreneurial School Awards 2019 took place in Helsinki as part of the European Vocational Skills Week on 16 October 2019. 

Gradia is one of the most active Finnish education providers in the annual entrepreneurship program. In the JA program, the students set up a real company for the year, where they can learn about entrepreneurship and develop their skills. 

More information on entrepreneurship at Gradia 

Petrikki Tukiainen, Senior Specialist, Entrepreneurship, Gradia, tel. 350403415850, 

Anu Tokila, Development Director, Gradia, tel. 358403415141, 

Pirjo Kauhanen, Principal, Gradia Jyväskylä, tel. 358403416152, 

More information about VET Excellence Awards and JA Finland: