Bringing foreign students and companies together through a campaign
HAMK has a group of nearly a thousand international students who are in dire need of jobs and internships, for example. Foreign students can help companies and other business operators in Kanta-Häme to internationalise with a low threshold.
Häme University of Applied Sciences and the actors of the Team Finland Häme network recently launched the Sustainable Internationality campaign, which aims to increase the international talent of companies and organisations in our region and to help HAMK’s degree students from abroad gain work experience and references.
In practice, HAMK’s Talent Boost specialist Tiina Björkskog contacts companies and tells them about diverse ways to utilise the expertise of international students. The group of several hundred includes future professionals from HAMK’s fields of study, i.e. bioeconomy, wellbeing, technology, business and design. Students can be offered a job, internship, project, mentoring or thesis topic. Lighter ways to co-operate, for example, is to present business activities to international students at HAMK or on site at the company, or to take a student or two to follow one’s work for a while.
According to Björkskog, excessively high requirements for Finnish language skills create a challenging attitude atmosphere, where it is almost impossible for international students to build a career or even complete study-related internships and theses.
Providing opportunities for students is a responsible act.
“That’s why it’s important to understand that we can all contribute to things and attitudes in our own organization. Providing opportunities for students is a responsible act. Above all, it opens doors for students, but also for organisations and companies: it is a gateway through which potential intellectual capital can be accessed’, Björkskog points out.
HAMK also utilises international capital itself, for example, research units have international students completing theses and internships. This also makes it easier to create different job opportunities, as experts can be reached already during studies.
Björkskog emphasises the ease of participating in the campaign. The Talent Boost team she leads is “the one that runs”: the company is offered a free recruitment service that is tailored as needed.
“”The company tells us what they need and we can see if we gather a pool of potential candidates for them, if we open a search, if we directly offer someone we know is suitable,” Björkskog lists.
However, according to her, it is also important to wake up to the fact that integrating international talent into the region does not happen by itself.
Integrating international talent into the region will not happen by itself.
“We want vitality and internationalisation in the area, but this requires practical actions. Efforts are also being made to recruit experts directly from Europe, even though suitable ones could already be available here. At the very least, it is now up to us to highlight this opportunity, without forgetting aspects related to the sustainability and ethics of recruitment.”
There is already cause for celebration: The first company, Papermark, a paper and board processor from Hämeenlinna, contacted HAMK because they wanted to offer an internship to a computer science student. Björkskog suggested that the application process would be extended to international students as well, thus increasing the number of potential options. During the application process, an international student was ultimately selected as the best candidate.
“This potential would almost be missed if the company hadn’t been on the road with the right attitude,” says Björkskog.
Ville Laakso, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Papermark Oy, says that as a Finnish operator committed to Finland’s future, the company is acutely concerned about the difficulty of recruiting different talents and areas of special expertise, which is related to the ageing population structure in Finland.
“As a nation, we must be able to find ways to expand our pool of young experts by creating routes for foreign students, first to receive high-quality education and then to find employment in Finland. Especially in IT tasks, platforms, applications and coding formats are practically global, so we saw a good opportunity in our own project to seize the excellent competence pool offered by HAMK with an open mind, and we have not been disappointed now that the project has got off to a good start. We warmly recommend giving it a try,” Laakso says.
Sustainable internationality campaign
- Häme University of Applied Sciences’ joint campaign by Talent Boost team and Team Finland Häme network, running 1.9.2023-31.5.2024 (possibly until late 2024).
- The aim is to activate the network to sustainably build and develop its own and the region’s companies’ internationality, so that international students get more concrete opportunities to integrate into working life.
- The aim is also that each member of the network utilises the expertise of an international expert during the campaign.
- Students can be found in HAMK’s campus locations in Hämeenlinna, Forssa, Riihimäki, Valkeakoski and Mustiala.
- Participating organisations are allowed to use the Sustainable Internationality label on their websites.