Omnia’s education for adult immigrants

The integration of adult immigrants into labor market requires personal studying paths and flexible pathways. So, we can guarantee every student's quality of learning.

Present situation

Photo 2. Professionals of the future from Omnia

Immigration to Finland has increased a lot of during recent years. There also seem to be a lack of the native-born workforce in restaurant business especially in a capital area of Finland. Nevertheless, young Finnish people are not as interested in the kitchen work as they were a couple of years ago. The positive trend of tempting career of a future “Master Chef” has been over for some time.

A logical solution to a problem of getting future workers into restaurants is to increase access of adult unemployed immigrants to vocational and market training programs which are leading for career of restaurant workers.

If we are considering sociopolitical perspectives, the restaurant services may offer “easy” entrance to the Finnish labor market and that will improve the employment rates of immigrants. Getting a job is probably the best way to integrate immigrants into society. Although this kind of positive thinking sometimes based a naive and unrealistic view of possible shortcuts to fix the language and cultural problems.

Learning, teaching and integration of adult immigrants in Finland

Immigrants are representing a wide range of countries and cultures and their educational background differs. Some of them have studies of university level but most of them hardly have passed level of “European” elementary school. Only a few newcomer immigrants have abilities to communicate in Finnish or they also speak English poorly (or any other European language)  or not at all. For example, starting point of integration into Finnish society is totally different if you are a spouse of a Finn from Thailand comparing a refugee from Iraq or Syria. We should offer education for them both but then the key question is: How we personalize the path of studies for all?

Nevertheless, their attitude towards education is positive, but they face big difficulties.

Photo 1. In the Nuuksio, National Park of Finland

This photo was taken from a group day/team workshops day inthe Nuuksio National Park.  It is very important that the group/teams are formed at the very beginning.

Jobs in finland for non-finnish speakers

Senior Lecturer Janne Möhkölä's point of view to labor markets for the adult immigrants are exceptionally good in Finnish capital area nowadays. There is still a major challenge preventing immigrant students getting the job and that is mostly a question of understanding language. You can even get restaurant job with poor Finnish skills if you can communicate in English inside the capital area. But without having any language skills you stay outside of the working life.

Many of adult immigrants have previous experience of restaurant work and that assists a lot of our training and employment target. But we need a lot of more resources with a specific focus on adult education-based Finnish as a second language to develop their abilities to communicate in spoken and written Finnish.

Photo 3. In this picture, students teach each other the secrets of their own cuisine. Chinese dumplings are made in this image.

A major challenge of the vocational education considering restaurant workers seem to be intake of new students. A previous education, language skills and the motivation set the framework what kind of studying paths we could implement to fulfill the target of employment.

The personal motivation is the primary factor that influence success of learning process. The participation of studies authorize the right to stay in Finland. We should separate the real will of study and work as a restaurant worker in the future, and intention only to maintain the residence permit for some time. Cooperation with teachers, working places and social workers (controlling the financial support while studying) should be easy and flexible that we could offer correct education for our future workers.

Photo 4. Here the Thai student makes a traditional salty sandwich cake.

There are no fast tricks to the successful integration into society or to rapid employment of the immigrants. Primarily we should guarantee the quality of vocational education also for immigrants. Chance longer-term goals for achieve personal and professional development for our foreign students. Otherwise the restaurant business branch is doomed to the low paid sector with no native-born workforce. Immigrants are the great resource in the labor market. But raising the skills of every individual to meet the changes of professional growth requires a lot of flexibility and intelligence of our educational system.

Janne Möhkölä, Senior Lecturer, teacher of foreign and native cook`s in Omnia.