Over the past ten years, nearly 500,000 young people have participated in Yrityskylä, a Finnish learning concept that has been recognised as the world’s best education innovation.
“Yrityskylä provides sixth-graders and ninth-graders with positive experiences of working life, the economy and society,” says Helka Otsolampi, Regional Manager at Yrityskylä Espoo.
Yrityskylä is part of Economy and Youth TAT, a national operator helping young people develop their financial and working life skills and become inspired by entrepreneurship.
Orion has cooperated with Yrityskylä for sixth-graders in Espoo since 2017 and, among others, all sixth-graders in Espoo participate. Around 75 pupils at a time spend a working day at Yrityskylä. Based on the national curriculum, the Yrityskylä concept also includes ten lessons at school.
“With a history of more than 100 years, Orion is an integral part of Finnish healthcare and society. We are contributing to building a better future. Yrityskylä is the best way to ensure that pupils learn how society works,” says Jouni Turunen, VP of Human Resources at Orion.
A day at work and experiences of entrepreneurship
During the current school year (2021–2022), Yrityskylä will be expanded to new regions, including Lapland. The municipalities of Loviisa and Lapinjärvi will join Yrityskylä for sixth-graders in Espoo. More than ten municipalities from the Uusimaa region have already joined. In addition, Yrityskylä has 30 companies and foundations as partners. This is the second year of Orion’s three-year period.
“New manuscripts for the tasks offered by miniature Orion are prepared each period in cooperation with the partner companies. The cornerstones are responsibility, education and sustainable development.”
According to Otsolampi, a game system is continuously being developed at Yrityskylä to enable pupils to work in various workplaces and receive a salary. Part-time entrepreneurship will now be added as a new element: pupils can earn extra income in addition to their salary during the working day.
Income from products, tax on the salary
Yrityskylä Espoo for sixth-graders opened its doors to pupils in early October 2021. Similarly to schools, there is no longer a need for remote learning at Yrityskylä.
“Enhanced hygiene and safety are ensured at Yrityskylä,” Otsolampi emphasises.
As before, the pupils read Yrityskylä’s job advertisements and apply for jobs. The jobs available at the miniature Orion in Yrityskylä are those of the managing director, production and product manager and researcher. The job interview is conducted by the teacher, and three or four pupils will be hired by a company, and they also cooperate with other companies in Yrityskylä.
“Once the pupils have tested Orion’s vitamin D, they can sell it to other companies. This makes it possible to pay salaries, which are subject to tax, of course. The pupils have bank accounts in Yrityskylä, and they can use their salary to buy products from the cafeteria or the shop.”
Yrityskylä also has a town hall, where the pupils vote to affect the use of tax revenues. At the same time, they learn the difference between public and private services. The most important aspect of the working day is to learn how society works.
Perspectives for young people
“Yrityskylä provides sixth-graders with their first experiences of working life. It’s an inspiring experience, which is good. Everyone can use their strengths and also learn something completely new. Some pupils enjoy the role of a managing director, while others prefer to work in an expert role as researchers, for instance,” Otsolampi explains.
According to Young People and the Future 2021, a study by Economy and Youth TAT, more than 70% of the pupils who have participated in Yrityskylä think that entrepreneurship and companies play a key role in well-being in society. The corresponding proportion is around 60% among young people who have not experienced Yrityskylä.
“For example, girls are increasingly interested in leadership, even though the gender distribution continues to be uneven in various fields. We seek to tackle gender differences in working life. Through Yrityskylä, pupils can discover opportunities and apply for a job that they didn’t even think about at first.”
According to the study, young people receive information about working life primarily from school, but not enough. Offering practical experiences – even for one day – is important. Parents’ background and education also affect young people, and encouragement from teachers is significant, of course.
Otsolampi says that all pupils find their role in Yrityskylä, and all roles from shop assistant to managing director are equally valuable in the miniature society at Yrityskylä.
Confidence in the future
Otsolampi mentions an emergency drill as an example of the pupils’ enthusiasm. During the drill, everyone needed to leave the facilities for a moment.
“I heard one of the pupils say that they wished the drill would soon be over so they could get back to work. In their feedback, the pupils are generally grateful for the opportunity to understand what their parents do for a living. Their awareness of Orion has also increased: some of them intend to apply for a job at Orion in the future because the work is interesting and the company is located in their city.”
Otsolampi finds it beneficial that Espoo-based companies participate in Yrityskylä’s operations in addition to national companies and those based in the Helsinki metropolitan area. This enables pupils to learn how various sectors are important in society.
According to the study by TAT, young people feel that Yrityskylä provides them with better capabilities to succeed in working life.
“The experience builds confidence in society: young people believe that they will find their place in working life in the future.”