Speech in the Opening ceremony

Dear Finnish and international guests of the opening ceremony,


I would first like to say a few words to the young. Finland’s success is based on skills. The top skills, that you have or that you are still acquiring.

Education prepares you for the start of your career. After that, you’ll gain more experience and skills. The new professionals of today need a wide-ranging tool box, and by adding to it you will be fine throughout your entire career.

Professional life is changing fast. Employment is not certain for anyone. You may feel insecure about your future.

Short-term jobs may bring along short-term hopes, short-term dreams and short-term life. Without a steady income, it’s difficult to plan ahead in life.

We have to remember that few of us will have a 30-year career working for one employer today. Careers are starting to resemble mosaics: they are a collection of different pieces from here and there.

Strong vocational education helps us take control of this transition, although education alone does not guarantee a road to steady employment and income anymore.

To us parents I would like to say that we must ensure that the road to education is not dependent on family background or wealth. It’s a question of justice to give everyone the opportunity to study. Tampere, and Finland as a whole, will succeed when we include everyone and ensure their top skills.

Dear listeners,

The range of education offered is being developed in upper secondary education and higher education. When renewing vocational education, we must ensure a sufficient amount of teaching hours and study guidance as well as the study prerequisites to safeguard vocational competence and the possibility for further studies.

The development of vocational education will be a more integral part of vitality and employment policy. In vocational education, we will try novel and digital learning environments that connect business life, employment and education.

The students will receive better guidance and support at workplaces. Our objective is that every young person will complete secondary education. The collaboration between different levels of education and business and working life will be strengthened. The transfer from one level of education to another or into working life will be smoother in the future.

In Tampere, we have an initiative called Tailor’s House as part of the municipal employment experiment, offering a master-and-apprentice model for learning at workplaces together with companies.

In this model, learning happens by working. The companies train professionals for themselves and also for the whole field. This provides practical, up-to-date knowledge and skills for tomorrow’s professionals. The model is not restricted to teaching only subjects. It also teaches skills for working life: working as part of the community and taking responsibility of oneself and the whole work community. These skills are not gained in independent studying without the participation of the community.

Smart companies know that there is no such thing as ready-to-go professionals and that they have to train and educate as well.

In order for Finland to succeed because of our top competence in the future as well, we have to solve many challenges in education. We have the best primary education in the world and well-trained staff. Now, our aim should be the best vocational education in the world.

One of our government’s key projects is the reform of secondary education. The project is also significant for municipalities, as nearly 90 per cent of vocational students are studying in schools owned by municipalities, municipal consortiums or educational companies owned by municipalities. The municipalities are also funding over 60 per cent of vocational education.

Our promise that there is a place to study for each young person leaving primary school also requires close co-operation between vocational education and local primary schools. The available study places in secondary education for those leaving primary school must correspond to the needs of the area.

Secondary education, especially vocational education, has a significant role in developing the area’s vitality. Local companies and municipal employers need a competent workforce. Vocational education must also be able to develop the vocational competence of employed personnel.

Vocational education has a central role in battling unemployment. The reform must ensure that the unemployed gain access to vocational education flexibly, in a timely manner and in accordance with their individual employment plans.

Dear guests, we have experience of this in the Tampere Region’s employment experiment. We have utilised robotics and with it increased the personal touch in employment services with our personal coaches. This is part of how individual employment plans are created.

Competences and available work must come together better than ever. It has to be possible to educate oneself throughout one’s whole career.

We need ways to maintain competence but also to change careers and professions. We need courage and opportunities. The new paths of the most attractive study town in Finland also lead to our university. By joining the three universities of Tampere we are developing a new university as a high-level and multidisciplinary breeding ground for science and innovations. Around it, a partner network that joins education providers, professionals, employers and investors will be built.

Dear youth,

in the middle of all this uncertainty, believe in yourself. Make brave and wise choices. You must have enthusiasm and motivation to educate yourself. The asset of this country has always been that anyone could become anything.

That must be the case in the future as well.

Skills and will are also an important part of the Taitaja2018 competition. In addition to skills, you need the will and motivation to be the best. Remember to be proud of your skills.

Good luck to all competitors and their supporting teams – although you need a lot more than luck to win this one. I wish everyone a fair competition!