Promoting employment among young people is important for society and an investment in the future. The path to working life is not always easy for young people. Offering opportunities to learn working life skills and gain experience is one way to help, and Valmet decided to provide such opportunities.
Valmet celebrates its industrial history of 220 years in 2017, which also is the centenary of Finnish independence. Here at Valmet, we were thinking about how we could celebrate this special year in way that would have real value and would enable our employees to participate. We thought that supporting young people and preventing social exclusion among them is one of the most important aspects with regard to the future. Offering opportunities to learn working life skills and gain experience is also a way to improve young people’s position in society.
This inspired us to create a program that offers a paid three-week training period for 100 young people this year. The purpose of the program is to support young people who need help with identifying their strengths. The young people selected to participate in the program are aged 16–26 and are either unemployed or are participating in preparatory education for vocational training (VALMA). The first 44 participants worked at Valmet in April, and we are looking forward to meeting the next group, who will start their training period in November. The first group consisted of 23 girls and 21 boys.
We planned and implemented the program in cooperation with the Children and Youth Foundation, Academic Work and WorkPilots. All parties play an important role: Valmet offers paid training opportunities and mentors for the participants. The Children and Youth Foundation helps us find the young people who most need practical training. Academic Work helps them with job applications and CVs as part of the training. WorkPilots provides help with payroll arrangements.
According to the Children and Youth Foundation, the program attracted a great deal of interest among young people. There is a significant need for programs of this type among the youth. In our experience, young people have many skills and are by no means work-shy. Many of them mastered tasks that they previously thought were too routine-like for their attention span. They wanted to learn how to use Excel, prepare presentation materials and create content for various communication channels. Based on the feedback, they also enjoyed experiencing working life and being part of a team. Many of them found positive feedback, as well feelings of achievement and belonging, to be the most important aspects of the program.
We hope that other companies in different parts of Finland will follow our example and provide young people with paid practical training opportunities—opportunities to learn working life skills. I believe that employees in many companies would be willing to serve as mentors for young people, for whom even a short period of practical training may be very significant in terms of the future.
We asked the young people how they benefited from the experience. They said they gained three things: Persistence. Courage. Self-confidence. All of which are important for their future.
Senior Vice President, Marketing, communications and sustainability