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18 May 2011

Finnish national competition was an international competition

Caring was popular among the audience, there were dozens of people watching this skill

By Skills FInland

Biggest audience ever in the Finnish national skills competition!

The Finnish national skills competition, Taitaja, took place in Kuopio May 3–5, 2011. The event attracted more visitors than ever: almost 67.000 people visited the competition during three days. All together over 400 students competed in the event. There were 41 skills categories and 3 demonstration skills categories in the Taitaja2011 competition. There were also 4 categories for students with special needs, called TaitajaPLUS competition. In addition to national skills competition there were also other events: seminars, education fair, and Taitaja9 competition in craftsmanship for 9th graders of lower secondary schools.

Taitaja is the biggest annual event within vocational education and training in Finland. It is organised every year in a different town or city, in order to involve different parts of Finland in skills activities. Local education providers organise the event in co-operation with educational institutions and private companies.

'The thing that especially pleased me this year, was the fact that there were over 500 partners involved in the competition,' says Competition Manager Pekka Matikainen from Skills Finland. 'Half of them were private companies, and the other half was educational institutions. This shows that the local businesses really see the benefits of taking part in the event.'

Pekka Matikainen praises also the organisation of the competition. 'There were no complains made to the jury about the evaluation, which tells me that the competition was organised extremely well and carefully.'

There were also 26 foreign competitors in Taitaja. They came from 10 different countries such as UK, Morocco, Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Some of them were already training for WorldSkills London 2011. The competitors were accompanied by several experts.

Skills Finland organised in Kuopio an international seminar “Performance in Excellence”, that attracted over 50 guests from several countries. The purpose of this seminar was to exchange these experiences and to get new ideas for further co-operation, and it was targeted for vocational teachers, principals and representatives from working life and VET administration.

The seminar was opened by Ms Eija Alhojärvi, Executive Director of Skills Finland and Ms Jenny Shackleton, Head of Skills Development from UK Skills. Petri Nokelainen and Susan James presented the research done around vocational excellence. The audience heard about interesting case studies from Morocco, Estonia and Finland.

In Finland there is a tradition to choose the best competitor, Taitajien Taitaja, a person who not only has won the gold medal in his/hers skills category, but is also a good example of fair play and commitment. This year the honour was given to Teemu Mikkonen, who won IT PC / Network Support. Teemu also won a gold medal in EuroSkills Lisbon 2010, in Office ICT Team / Open Source Specialist. During the upcoming year he will be the ambassador of skills competitions. To ease this task, he has a sponsored car for his use for one year. Last year winner drove over 40.000 kilometers with her car. What an excellent commitment for the skills promotion!

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