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News about internationalisation

21.10.2015

Finnish guidance professionals touring the world with critical eyes and open minds

In spring 2015, nearly twenty Finnish guidance professionals working in vocational education institutions and in employment and economic development administration participated in the Academia study visits organised in several European countries. The experiences gained were discussed with the Finnish guidance practitioners at the return seminar organised in September by the Teacher Education College of JAMK University of Applied Sciences.

Although the visit put language skills to the test, the days were long and full of activities and the absorption of the information about the destination country took its toll, the exchange visits were generally considered extremely valuable. The main impressions of the visits were the abundance of professional experiences yielded by them, international contacts and the chance to see guidance work from a new perspective.

You can always learn something new

There are always great expectations related to participating in expert exchange abroad. Participants want to make the most of the week spent in another country, both professionally and socially. The goals are in particular related to developing guidance competence, establishing new expert contacts as well as learning more about the destination country and its culture.

When it comes to an exchange, people seek inspiration, good practices and new methods for their daily work. Indeed, many of the exchange participants say that it is important to take some distance from one’s own everyday guidance work and get the chance to see how things are done elsewhere. This enables critical reflection of one’s own guidance work and gives an opportunity to contemplate how skills could be further developed. It is important to look for influences elsewhere and gain insights: “Hey, you could do it that way, too!”

Guidance is increasingly significant

The current economically difficult times have brought guidance and its significance to centre stage in many countries. The Finnish participants emphasised that there seems to be, to an unprecedented extent, social demand and a function in society for guidance in Europe. It is important to see guidance in a wider context as this brings deeper significance to the work of guidance professionals.

The sharing of information and experiences with participating guidance professionals from other countries helps you to understand the nature of guidance work and its challenges in different parts of Europe. The aim of supporting clients in their education and career choices is shared by everyone, but there are great differences between countries in how guidance services are organised and how guidance professionals are trained.

Continuing training at its best

The concept of the Academia guidance professional exchange has been developed in many ways throughout the years. On JAMK’s initiative, a so-called professional article was introduced as a new feature this year. Each Finnish guidance professional participating in the exchange writes such an article on a topic s/he chooses, inspired by the Academia visit. The articles are a good medium for distributing the results of the exchange in the guidance professional’s work community and networks. At the moment, the intensive Academia exchange is categorised as continuingvocational trainingat JAMK University of Applied Sciences, and all Finnish guidance professionals who have completed it, receive five credit points for the exchange.

Text: Mika Launikari. The article is based on the interview of Jaana Ahlqvist. Jaana is in charge of the Academia exchange coordination at JAMK University of Applied Sciences.
Photograph: Jaana Ahlqvist, JAMK.

Academia study visits are funded through the Erasmus+ programme.

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