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Metropolia has started recognizing the competence of highly educated immigrants and asylum seekers in April to make it easier to guide immigrants for suitable educational and career paths. The aim of Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland (SIMHE) project is to support the integration and employment of immigrants in Finland. Based on a survey on skills and competence conducted in reception centers, 27 % of asylum seekers have a degree or earlier studies in higher education.
The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the aim is to create a model through which other higher education institutions can establish similar services. ”A new model is needed to develop both education and employment and it is important that we get to be part of this project from the start as it is significant even for the Finnish economy”, states Managing Director and President of Metropolia, Riitta Konkola.
At Metropolia, the project has started on 20 April by piloting recognition of professional competence of highly educated immigrants in the field of technology. After the evaluation of the pilot, the services for recognition of competencies will be introduced to other fields of study at Metropolia: social services and healthcare, culture, and business administration.
”The pilot was based in the assumption that immigrants, who participate in the recognition of competence, have a degree or earlier studies in engineering or in the field of technology. The results of the pilot will give us an idea how the chosen methods of recognizing competences function among the target group and what kind of new educational paths should be created for them to make the integration to the Finnish society as smooth as possible via continuing education, employment or entrepreneurship. It is also important to acknowledge how we can benefit from immigrants’ existing competences”, says Project Director Heidi Stenberg.
The pilot was implemented together with Luona Oy that maintains reception centres, and with the Helsinki Immigration Services. Guidance services are anticipated both in the reception centre and in Helsinki Immigration Services. ”I was surprised how motivated and enthusiastic our clients were to hear about the start of a new service. For me as an employee, the service provides a concrete tool for reducing the frustration of our highly educated clients. Meaningful, future-oriented activities are really appreciated here”, believes social worker Emma Eerolainen from the Luona reception centre in Vantaa. Emma Eerolainen has a previous close partnership with Metropolia herself as she graduated from Metropolia’s Social Services degree programme in 2015.
Auli Suominen, who has worked as a social worker in the Helsinki Immigration Services for a long period time, is also happy to welcome the service. ”It is excellent that new models are being developed, because the current services are insufficient for both highly educated immigrants and the Finnish society. I also hope that after the recognition of competence new paths will be found to support employment and integration”, Suominen reflects.
30 immigrants, the majority of them from Iraq, participated in the pilot test for recognizing competences in the field of technology. Other participants were from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Belarus. Some of the participants had arrived in Finland last autumn, and a few had been in Finland for nearly three years already. Almost everyone who had enrolled for the test, came to the recognition.
Immigrants were tested for mathematical and digital skills, and competence in the field of technology and engineering. Skills in engineering were tested by using various case studies that represented Metropolia’s engineering education. If none of the given cases represented participants’ own area of expertise, the participants could choose an open problem-solving case in the field of engineering. The pilot test was conducted in English, Arabic and Finnish.
Methods of recognizing competence, content and language options in the test will be improved and developed based on the results and feedback from the pilot. In addition to recognition of competence, Metropolia’s services for immigrants and asylum seekers include guidance. Guidance services will be available for all highly educated immigrants and asylum seekers from 2 May onwards.
The Finnish University Partnership for International Development (UniPID) network, which is coordinated by University of Jyväskylä, provides SIMHE services along with Metropolia. Jyväskylä has established a SIMHE-point for guidance services for highly educated immigrants, also in April. Collaboration and the concept of service are developed together with Employment and Economic Development Offices, other authorities, educational institutions and a wide network of experts. Both projects are funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Heidi Stenberg, Project Director
heidi.stenberg @ metropolia . fi
+ 358 40 535 3388
Marianne Autero, Project Coordinator
marianne.autero @ metropolia . fi
+358 40 621 6636