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A Finnish adult learner on an apprenticeship abroad

minn Reeta KNUUTI
Lingwa: EN
Document available also in: FI SV DE

Work supervision apprentice Sanna Laulunen switched careers when she was faced with a risk of possible termination of employment after working at Nokia for 17 years. “I am the type to throw myself into new things – I saw STX shipyard’s advertisement for an iron-sheet welder course and I decided to participate.” However, due to health-related reasons, the welding work didn’t suit Sanna. With her employer Meyer Turku Oy, she agreed on obtaining a specialized profession degree through an apprenticeship. “I had experience in work supervision from Nokia, but I thought a degree would give me competence and I wouldn’t only have to rely on having worked in that role,” Sanna explains.

The president of Meyer Turku Shipbuilding School Vesa Eskonen explains that they cooperate widely with the Turku apprenticeship office. “We have a number of similar students, when we educate our own employees for clerical tasks. Because the owner Meyer Werft is conveniently on the other side of the Baltic Sea, it is easy to move between the shipyards.”

During her apprenticeship period Sanna spent four weeks in Germany. “I worked as an apprentice in the quality organisation of the shipyard. They had really put their heart into my education, and I had the opportunity to participate in daily operations, like measuring and quality control tasks and meetings. They talked very openly about their challenges and how they solve them.”

It pays to prepare for the apprenticeship period abroad well in advance. “You need to find out about everything in detail beforehand, because once you go there, four weeks is a very short time after all,” Sanna says. In practice, the whole process can take months. In addition to a suitable apprenticeship, the apprentice needs a substitute for while they are gone. The receiving company also has to prepare the apprentice’s work tasks.

An apprenticeship contract is a relatively new way for adults to learn a profession. It is better known as a form of education for younger people. In Germany, it is normal to learn a new profession through an apprenticeship and at Meyer Werft nobody found it strange to encounter an adult apprenticeship student.

When an adult learner has to combine studies with working, managing it all might seem intimidating. According to Sanna, combining working and studying wasn’t too demanding in the end: “We had general classes once a week and specializing classes one day a month, so studying didn’t feel too tough.” Financing didn’t end up being a problem either. For her study days, Sanna received an education compensation and for her working days, a salary.

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