Construction and building trade programmes popular at Finnish vocational schools
The public debate on the high income of plumbers and on the shortage of labour on construction sites has not fallen on deaf ears.
In fact, the vocational schools in the Greater Helsinki area are at present unable to offer vocational training in heating, plumbing, and air conditioning (HEPAC) or in construction to as many students as would be willing to become plumbers or building engineers.
”For many years, Omnia had no HEPAC programme, as nobody wanted to seek admission to those trades. However, this year the number of applicants was 90, while we could take only 20 new students”, said Veli Perkkiö from Omnia Polytechnic in Espoo.
The situation is similar in the other vocational schools in the Greater Helsinki area as well.
”The numbers of applicants have increased, particularly on the programmes of construction and building technology”, confirms Maarit Kallio-Savela, the principal of Laurea Polytechnic in Vantaa.
Polytechnics offering vocational education have certain permanent favourites as well as some favourite occupations that can vary according to season.
After leaving comprehensive school, boys often seek a career fixing cars, while girls would like to become hairdressers or cosmeticians.
The popularity of employment in public relations or in the cultural sector has also remained steady.
The increases and declines in the numbers of applicants are closely linked with public debates on various careers and the salaries and availability of jobs these occupations can offer.
For example, the number of applicants for the electronics technician programme has plummeted over the past few years, even though it was reportedly one of the most popular courses at around the turn of the millennium.
”This is clearly a consequence of the so-called China phenomenon, in other words certain jobs in this sector have been unceremoniously transferred to the Far East”, notes Leena Munukka from Heltech, the Helsinki Institute of Technology.
However, the trendy occupations also have their risks. A shortage of labour can suddenly turn into mass unemployment, if you happen to catch the wrong end of the wave.
As it is difficult to predict the availability of jobs in any given sector on the long run, it would be advisable to acquire a broad general education instead of specializing in a narrow vocational branch, says Roope Uusitalo from the Government Institute for Economic Research (VATT).
The Government Institute for Economic Research (VATT)