The purpose of the employer consultations made for the local employers was to get clarification of transversal skills and employability attributes sought by renewables sector in Lahti area. This data was used during the project to benchmark the contents of the intensive study periods (ISP) and basic scientific knowledge behind the program design. This in its part guaranteed quality and actuality of teaching and learning.
Author: Juha Hyytiäinen
The view of PEETS program design team concerning transversal skills
The view of transversal skills of the design team of the PEETS program is summarized in picture one. This picture is also used in student induction to give students an overall view what transversal skills mean so that they can better reflect what they learn during the ISPs. The questions asked during the employer consultations were devised based on this framework.
Figure 1. Transversal skills divided into four fields (Belt 2017).
Method used to get the employer/stakeholder view
The method in getting the employer view in Lahti was three staged. In the first stage in 2017 seven energy/renewables sector companies in Lahti area were contacted by phone and asked three basic questions about transversal skills and if they seemed interested a fourth additional question that probed the willingness to cooperate with the project in the future. The persons contacted were CEOs, HR-managers or key officers within the company. At the second stage in 2018 small student teams and individual students made stakeholder interviews as course prework in renewables sector according to the instructions from Dr. Jantien Belt (The Hague University of Applied Sciences) mainly in Finland, Netherlands and Scotland. Finnish team did four interviews with one exception, which was a timber company in Australia. The types of interviews students made varied some despite the common framework. Third stage composed of free questions asked during the company presentations and visits (4 companies) during the ISP2.
Results of the employer consultations
The most frequently mentioned new employee skills from the seven 2017 phone interviews are summarized in table one.
|Personal/social skills||intercultural attitude/knowledge||foreign languages|
|Motivation/willingness to work (3)||Openness (4)||English (6)|
|Team work skills (3)||Recognizes cultural differences (3)||Swedish (4)|
|Initiative (2)||Ability to make contact/ask (2)||Russian (3)|
|Situational awareness (2)||Ability to accept different kinds of people (1)||German (3)|
|Honesty, openness, ability to learn new, critical thinking (1)||Adaptability (1)||According to the target country (2)|
Table 1. Summary of results from 2017 phone interviews made in Lahti area for seven companies. Numbers in brackets represent the times the attribute was mentioned in the interviews.
The key attributes concerning new employees from 2018 student team interviews (3 + 1 a timber company in Australia) are listed below.
- Willingness to learn, Willingness to learn/work, communicating effectively and behaving properly with the people from other cultures, English and Swedish
- What really matters is education and your personality, Finnish and English
- All the transversal skills are important – I can’t choose between them, Being able to say no to someone and talk about difficult topics without making people feel bad, curiosity about other cultures, English other foreign language competency isn’t that important since you can find someone to translate
- Good ethic, ability to do the job with little supervision, Being able to interact with others in a positive and effective way and communicating effectively and behaving properly with the people from other cultures, languages needed depends on business
The key points that rose from questions asked during the company visits and company presentations during the 2018 ISP included attitude, listening to the customer, finding the right team for the job.
Conclusions from the employer/stakeholder consultations
The most important attributes that rose from the consultations belong to the attitude field of the picture one. A supervisor engineer in a big multinational company that was visited during the 2018 ISP in Finland stated that attitude is the most important thing in a new employee. The ability to communicate with different people was also considered a key attribute. Language wise English was the most frequently mentioned and it was considered a basic requirement. Other language needs arise from the environment or target country. Also translators can be also used e.g. in places there languages differ from main European languages.
The stakeholder consultations have helped to develop PEETS program further. The results also point to a direction of a learning environment that develops positive attitudes towards doing work, learning new things and willingness to participate. A multicultural and multidisciplinary environment
helps to promote communication skills between different people. Problem solving and project work in real life cases with real and simulated difficulties make this more realistic. The build in reflection system enhances the learning or at least focuses students and staff to think the key points in their experiences and learning. PEETS program has used this approach from the start and it has developed with every iteration. This approach and four fields of transversal skills could be used as a tool to develop and benchmark programs and courses in LAMK.
Belt, J. 2017. Transversal skills. Power point presentation. The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
Juha Hyytiäinen works as a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Technology in Lahti University of Applied Sciences.
Illustration: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/596254 (CC0)
Reference to this publication
Hyytiäinen, J. 2019. Motivation for employer consultation in Transversal Skills and Employability. LAMK Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: http://www.lamkpub.fi/2019/04/25/motivation-for-employer-consultation-in-transversal-skills-and-employability/