Aihearkisto: yrittäjyys

MusicXchain – the project is ending but the network keeps going – join the celebration on 5 November!

The MusicXchain is a network of six (6) education providers from five (5) member states (Finland, Latvia, Germany, Netherlands and Slovenia) all offering upper secondary VET education in music.

The Erasmus+ KA2 project with the same name has focused on key competences of learners in the music sector by creating new and innovative ways for cooperating and learning and thus enhancing their networking and digital skills as well as fostering an entrepreneurial mindset necessary for a successful career in the creative industries.

The MusicXchain project main aims have been to yield a number of tangible results on completion of the project such as

• a structured platform for managing and coordinating the network activities including a calendar of mobility modules and other events offered within the network;
• a structured model for organizing learning mobility in the music sector taking into consideration the strengths and expertise of each participating college;
• a facility (within the platform) for virtual music lab activities where masterclasses, validated technique videos and e.g. career stories of alumni can be shared or music productions can be planned.

On the participating VET providers level the results have been

  • an exchange of knowledge, skills and experience between organizations;
  • a significant increase in the number of learners in the music sector gaining an international experience through virtual communication initiatives and physical learning mobility;
  • a stronger focus on fostering an entrepreneurial mindset within the staff and the learners;
  • embedment – project activities and results have helped to create an awareness that internationalization provides an attractive, modern and functional context for VET curricula;
  • upskilled teachers – the project has also induced the need for modernisation of teaching and need for professionalisation of staff e.g. in the area of using digital tools for music lab activities at home.

On both European and national level the intangible results have been the following:

A sustainable network of VET providers in the music sector – the project has involved international cooperation between VET colleges in five (5) EU member states whilst creating learning mobility opportunities, (virtual and physical) the projects core goal has been to create a strong and sustainable EU partnership for learning mobility;
More efficient use of European tools such as Europass and ECVET. The latter has been used to describe the knowledge, skills and competences learners can attain whilst doing a module abroad or virtual music lab activities at home, thus developing recognition, transparency and certification and to realise the latter, it has been important to have the developed products embedded in the partners’ curricula;

Join the celebration and learn more about the network and the project by coming to the MusicXchain webinar on Thursday 5 November 2020 13-17:30 CET/ 14-18:30 EET.

Register for the event HERE

Questions re. the webinar: Ineke Saade i.sadee(at)

Information about the network and project

New normal in Novo mesto

When on Friday, 13th March 2020, it became clear that schools would be closed for a while and the work/study would be done remotely, no one knew how long the school doors would be locked for. We were confident we would stay at home for a maximum of 3 weeks. However, we never imagined that the quarantine would last so long,” says Headmistress Andreja Petrovic from Ekonomska šola Novo mesto.

We quickly had to find the ways for remote working. Some guidelines were provided by the Association of Higher Vocational Colleges, but they were rather general, not very useful for the specific situation. Surprisingly, no instructions were received from the Ministry of Education, at least not in time.

The participants in education are very helpful to one another. We looked for examples of good practices from colleagues from different schools and different education levels. We learned about different tools and tried them out – Jitsi, Zoom, VID Arnes, At our school the basic tools for remote working are Moodle, OneDrive and email.

Lecturer Sonja Kukman emphasises the role of the teachers. “It is extremely important that the lecturer provides support to students during and after the class. We have learned that remote working is extremely challenging for lecturers, as they have a lot more to prepare, review assignments and give feedback. We find the workload for lecturers to be much higher and the efficiency to be lower. “

At the same time, the staff at Novo mesto College have noticed also that distance learning is more demanding also for students who have to invest much more energy in learning than in the classical learning process, since they do not get immediate feedback.

“A big problem for our students is the equipment – some do not have a good Internet connection or have poor hardware performance,” notes Lecturer Damjana Mozic. Big software providers have allowed the college to use specialized software for free, but students were unable to download it because of less powerful computers. So, they’ve still had to find their own way.

The biggest challenge is certainly taking on-line exams, for both lecturers and students. But even that is going on well. Any video conferencing tool is suitable for oral exams – the lecturer and the student only establish a video link. Written exams are a bigger challenge. “First, we used a combination of a Moodle Quiz and a video link for written exams, later we started using the platform. We find this platform very useful for safety reasons, and we intend to organize teacher training to use it in further exams,” says Lecturer Jerca Bozic Kranjec.

Before the exams, the lecturers must test the tools with students. Special attention is also given to students who do not have computer equipment or an efficient Internet connection. We prepare personalized exams for them.

After the first exams, the lecturers presented their experience to their colleagues in a video conference and answered their dilemmas. At the end of the first exam period the exam results and experiences will be presented to all lecturers and students.

“We are convinced that distant learning is a greater burden or challenge for students, as they have to do everything on their own and therefore the level of their activity is also much higher than in the classical education process. “ Unfortunately, psychological distress has also been present due to isolation and lack of social contacts. On several occasions students have turned to the headmistress and the lecturers because they just want to hear some encouraging words. They are afraid of the situation, they are afraid that they will not be able to successfully complete the study year.

“We all wish we could return to school by mid-May, but we doubt that will happen. It might be that this study year’s lectures will be completed by remote working and we will meet again at school at the end of summer.” Colleges in Slovenia are not autonomous and cannot decide when to return to the classrooms, the decision depends on the Government and the Ministry of Education. Another problem is that the colleges get most of the information from the media, which is unofficial, and the information changes on a daily basis.

“The problem is that we do not know when the first-year students will be able to do their placement in companies, which is an important part of the study process at higher vocational colleges.” Both, placement at employers in Slovenia and Erasmus+ placement abroad have been cancelled. The National Agency is very responsive, but unfortunately, the college cannot provide students with concrete information on the opportunities of taking placement abroad. This year, students will definitely not be able to do that, despite the fact that a lot of effort and time have already been invested in the activities. Sonja Kukman states that they hope that they will enjoy their Erasmus+ placement abroad in the coming periods, regardless of the present negative experience.

“What to say in conclusion? In this new situation, we have begun to learn and are still learning. We miss what the mission of the educational work is: personal contact, interaction, two-way communication, student feedback. We miss discussions, conversations, hanging out with co-workers.”

Now all the staff at the college want to do is to go back to their workplace and to work within the school walls with students and colleagues. But there is a silver lining in (at least almost) every situation: “We can only hope that we have all learned a great deal from this – from new forms of work to the adoption of new communication techniques and, last but not least, we had the opportunity to deepen into ourselves. This is an experience that will become handy in the future work field as we started thinking about gradual introduction of blended learning just before the corona situation broke out.”

Ekonomska šola Novo mesto, Vocational College, Slovenia

Andreja Petrovič, Headmistress

Sonja Kukman, Lecturer

Jerca Božič Kranjec, Lecturer

Damjana Možic, Lecturer

Merci beacoup

Gradia had the pleasure of hosting staff from Lycee Nadar/ Academie Versailles at the end of January. We asked them some questions regarding their visit and the impressions they got.

What did you find were the similaries/ differences in VET education in Finland and France? Did something surprise you?

It was a real pleasure to get to know Gradia and it was very enriching to talk with you about your school system.

The similarities with the Finnish system and the French system are few. In fact, in broad terms, we find (in common) the idea of learning a trade but the implementation is completely different. The state of mind is totally different. And we can imagine that the result is too.

There are several points which can be highlighted and which were quite surprising in relation to our system :

  • the first is the mix between young people and adults
  • the second is the learning of entrepreneurship but also the implementation of the learning that we were able to discover in the visual merchandising – to put n condition the students and thus allow them already to confront the reality of a project: it’s just great
  • the third is always in this state of mind where you allow e.g. the electro-technical and mechanical sector to produce for companies and thus already participate in this economy, but also to feel useful, and in the end collect money for their project
  • the fourth is focused on the cafeteria: the diversity of dishes while paying attention to everyone’s allergies but also the food shop system which allows the sale of food that has not been consumed at noon
  • the fifth is the teaching method which is presented in the form of modules and allows the student to reveal himself throughout his schooling and thus continue his studies while having the possibility of completing or reorienting his training

What would you like to take with you back to France? What would you like to happen next?

The previous list could be even longer. The Finnish system is really very interesting and a model of its kind. We could say that the French system, in itself, presents similarities but only when one begins the higher studies (studies after the baccalaureate). Which is a shame because many of our students stop school after the baccalaureate and do not pursue higher education and it would have been interesting to have given them all these skills before starting their professional life. Students who continue their studies would also be better prepared for the required academic level of higher education. Many drop out because they are still too academic. Let’s say it: the Finnish system is trying to make the child responsible and the French system is not.

We don’t feel it is really possible to change the French system because it depends on a lot of things. Many things would have to change at the top, namely the Ministry of Education and the French mentality. Meanwhile, we think it is still possible for the teachers to make a change and follow the path that is imposed on us, while at the same time conveying a pedagogy that will allow the student to have deep reflections on their future and their studies.

And finally, the visitors would like to thank everyone they met at Gradia for the warm welcome received. All interventions were very interesting and appreciated.

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: