International networks accumulate ideas, know-how and understanding

Lue artikkeli suomeksi

The exchange of students and trainees opens many windows to the world for young people. At the same time, it offers educational institutions and companies the opportunity to draw on new ideas and practices. A good example here is the long-established cooperation network with the Polish and people in Nivala and the surrounding area.

NIHAK, JEDU, Nivala Industrial Park and Keskipiste Leader introduced themselves to the Polish during their January visit.

Photo: Hanna Perkkiö

A group of representatives of vocational training institutions from Poznan, Poland visited Nivala on the 25th of January getting acquainted with the activities of NIHAK, Nivala Industrial Park, MicroENTRE Micro-Entrepreneurship Center and Vocational Education Center. The program of the day also included company visits to Pro Estore and NTcab.

The week-long visit was hosted by JEDU and Centria University of Applied Sciences, and in addition to Nivala, they also visited Ylivieska, Kalajoki and Kokkola. The previous meeting was last September, when NIHAK representatives visited Poznan to explore new opportunities for cooperation.

The goals of the cooperation are to increase Erasmus exchanges and to attract international students and trainees to companies in the region. To achieve this, coordination is needed between educational institutions, municipalities, and business services in the area. NIHAK also has a key role to play in this.

For the past couple of years, the student exchange has been almost at a standstill, but a new start is being “fired up”. Student groups will be setting out next summer and early autumn, and co-operation with the Polish is also expanding into the media sector. Even before the pandemic, student exchanges have taken place in construction education.

In September, NIHAK representatives and the Polish met in Poznan.

Good practices and valuable learning

Aleksandra Warkocka and Barbara Kochner, representing the management of Pozna? educational institutions, state that co-operation benefits all parties in many ways. Knowledge, experience and ideas move across borders, and new ways of working are drawn from practical experience.

“We work locally with companies to organize internships for students. Student exchanges can also be used to gain experience and information on how to operate elsewhere.” Warkocka says.

A good example can be found in construction education. Kochner tells how a group of Polish students participated in a building project at JEDU and saw all the phases, from design/planning to sale.

“The experience was so good that we also started to apply the same operating model and adapt it to our own local operating environment.”

Both Warkocka and Kochner point out that student exchange above all gives young people a valuable experience for later life. In addition to studying, you accumulate co-operation skills and cultural know-how – a lot of benefits that are not even measurable.

Long-term work pays off

Internationalization is one of NIHAK’s most important priorities and has been promoted on a broad front for a long time. The results of the work have accumulated know-how, knowledge, social and cultural capital as well as extensive international networks.

On a practical level, NIHAK’s international services work with companies on internationalization plans, market surveys, joint exhibition trips and funding applications. The work will eventually be seen in the region as investments by companies, but also as cooperation between educational institutions and student exchanges.

Over the years, co-operation has been accelerated through various projects. There are still several ongoing NIHAK-led internationalization projects in the area. NIHAK is also a partner in international projects of educational institutions in the region and is currently involved in, among others, the UMBR-ELLA project managed by Centria, which develops the readiness of companies to internationalize. Leader groups in the region have also been involved in networking with companies, educational institutions, cultural operators and young people.

Ari Alakangas, NIHAK’s export expert, reminds us that internationalization is not a quick trip. Cooperation with the Polish has been a long process that has been going on for almost a decade in various sectors of life.

“It can be described as a circle of positive things that has started to expand on many levels. There are common interfaces in business and industry as well as in educational institutions and leisure activities,” Alakangas states.

Written by Hanna Perkkiö

More articles