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Skills fixed – showing your competence! Studies in the fields of health care, social services and forestry for immigrants

Some immigrants may have a low level of education or deficiencies in their vocational competence, language proficiency or skills required in the labour market. The labour market training by the name Skills fixed – showing your competence! Studies in the fields of health care, social services and forestry for immigrants (Valmiudet kuntoon – osaaminen esille!

Sosiaali- ja terveysalan sekä metsäalan opintoja maahanmuuttajille) helped to create the preconditions for engaging in society.

Implementation of the good practice 

The labour market training Skills fixed – showing your competence!  Studies in the fields of health care, social welfare and forestry for immigrants consisted of the following sections:

  • Kohti työelämää ('Towards working life') – training, 6 months
  • Studies in the field of health care and social welfare for immigrants – labour market training, 100 days
  • Forestry studies for immigrants – labour market training, 100 days.

Before the 100-day labour market training, the majority of the participants took part in the Kohti työelämää training provided in the project to improve their vocational skills and language proficiency. The training included guidance for individuals and groups. The teaching methods used in the training were visual methods, self-assessment, drama, writing, IT skills and visits to companies.

In addition to the training, mentoring activities were also organised because the initial interviews revealed that few of the immigrants knew any Finns. Participants were able to ask their mentor friends even about sensitive matters. They were introduced to the Finnish culture with guidance from native Finns. The activities with the mentors also promoted finding employment. Each participant and his or her mentor familiarised themselves with one interesting workplace, took pictures during their visit and presented the workplace to the other participants and their mentors.

The language used in the project was plain language. We drew up material in plain language for the participants. The coaching and training were in plain language.

The participants then had the opportunity to apply to vocational labour market training, of which one training specialised in the field of health care and social services and the other in forestry. Like the Kohti työelämää training, this training also paid attention to the participants' needs and to building individual paths for them.

The training included three work placement periods during which the students practiced both their Finnish skills and their vocational competence. During the work placement, the participants reflected on their career choice and learned the rules of working life and the specialist language of their field at a real workplace.

During the training, the project workers participated in the guidance of the trainee, for example by supporting the trainee in learning working life-related vocabulary and Finnish and surveyed new workplaces and opportunities for cooperation together with the instructor and the employers.


  • The training strengthened the integration, vocational competence, proficiency in Finnish and working life skills of the immigrants.
  • As a rule, the participants continued to vocational studies or found employment.

How to take advantage of the good practice

  • Pay attention to using plain language, the quality of studying and the opportunity to provide individual guidance. Individual guidance improves if texts such as official texts are produced in plain language.
  • All occupations are not suitable for everyone. It is therefore a good idea to test the participants and give them a familiarisation before moving on to the actual vocational studies. The orientation studies in the transition stage are well suited for this purpose.
  • Anticipation is important when planning the structure of different preparation studies and when considering the possible expert services required. For example, the permits required for the participants during the work placement (e.g. occupational hazards when felling trees) may only be obtained in educational institutions that provide teaching in the field. When expert services are tendered, it should be checked that the services procured do not overlap.
  • It is often surprising to find that although the participant's Finnish is weak, the person is an expert the job! Digging out the person's skills is the most important thing.
  • A mentor network helped in the integration and in the familiarisation with working life.


Tiina Pulju, Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, tel. +358 29 5037112, tiina.pulju(at)ely-keskus.fi

Indroduction of the project (pdf, www.toimistot te-palvelut.fi, in Finnish)

Further information on the project:

Structural Fund Information Service S20415
Priority axis 3. Employment and labour mobility
Specific objective 6.1 Promoting the employment of young people and those in a weak position in the job market

Picture: Virpi Portamo