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CIMO’s trainees have been confident experts abroad

What do Tekes’ office in the Silicon Valley and Colo Colo, the most famous football club in Chile, have in common? Or the Suomi-koti residential home in Gatchina in Russia and the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva? And the Finnish-African cultural centre Villa Karo in Benin and the InterContinental Hangzhou hotel in Hangzhou, China? Just like hundreds of other places across the world, they have all had a Finnish trainee through CIMO. CIMO, the current Finnish National Agency for Education EDUFI, has provided training placements on five different continents for over a quarter of a century.

International traineeship attracts and engages – this is what has happened

International traineeship was once one of CIMO’s founding blocks, but its roots reach even further back in time: there have been trainees going abroad from Finland since 1952. The programmes have been popular. The total number of trainees has varied between 1,000 and 2,000 annually and, depending on the programme, a placement has been found for 5-30 per cent of the applicants. Every year, about 300 trainees have received a grant supporting their traineeship.

International traineeship has left a trace not only in the trainees’ competences but also in their memory. Finland’s hard-working and confident experts abroad, a recent report on the impact of international traineeship, is based on a survey to which 290 former trainees from 59 different destination countries responded – there were also respondents who had completed their traineeship more than 10 years ago. In addition, 22 Finnish higher education institutions and 82 employers from 47 different countries responded to the survey. Not bad, is it? It is also motivating for us specialists.

International traineeship has impact – of course

The results of the assessment reveal that international traineeship has an impact on a lot of things. It has had a particularly strong impact on the courage and language skills, general as well as professional, of the person completing the traineeship. After all, trainees get to work in an environment and networks in which they have to operate partly or fully using a foreign language. In the framework of hidden competences (link in Finnish), the strongest effects of international traineeship were seen on curiosity and resilience.

That is good. Some of the trainees also have to – or rather have a chance to – use other foreign languages in addition to English. And this is, of course, a positive thing in terms of Finland’s competitiveness in the future and the language skills of the Finns, as there is a lot of discussion today about how the range of languages Finnish people know has narrowed. In my opinion, in addition to their professional competence and expertise, representatives of a small nation also need to know other languages than just English to be successful and stand out in international circles.

Societally significant investment in Finland’s position and future in a global world

I have long been of the opinion that people who have done an international traineeship significantly contribute to Finland’s position and future in a global world. In the impact assessment, our partners abroad highlighted the fact that Finnish trainees are ambassadors of today’s Finland in their workplaces abroad. Trainees provide a glimpse of one of the most successful countries in the world and so are an encouraging example to the youth of the countries receiving them. According to our partners, Finnish trainees have a role in the identification of the change in working life and the identification of competence needs.

From the point of view of higher education institutions, the assessment revealed that our training placements have supplemented the institutions’ own selections both thanks to their high quality and the large variety of opportunities they offer outside the European Union: the focus of traineeship programmes has already been on countries outside the EU for about ten years.

So yes, we want to see hard-working and confident Edufi Trainees abroad in future, too.

Jaana Mutanen

Jaana Mutanen

develops international traineeship at the Finnish National Agency for Education EDUFI. She believes that multiple competences and one’s own activity open the doors to the future and that interest in building professional networks as well as communication skills are the most essential elements in international work. In her opinion, work outside the EU requires language skills, tolerance for uncertainty, cultural empathy and courage to embark on adventures that increase professional development.