In the Yrityskylä learning environment, young people learn how the wheels of society turn

Yrityskylä is a learning concept where pupils learn about working life, financial skills and operating in society. Over three years of cooperation thousands of schoolchildren have become familiar with Orion. The next three-year period of cooperation will begin next year.

“Does anybody know what a TyEL contribution is?” instructor Sanni Hietanen asks the 12-year-old CEOs of miniature companies that have gathered around her. Someone puts up their hand and says: "It’s a pension payment – when you retire, you receive money to live on, even though you are no longer working."

A group of 6th graders are visiting the Yrityskylä for 6th graders in Espoo, where they will learn about working life, entrepreneurship, financial skills and operating in society. Yrityskylä is an innovative Finnish learning concept developed by the Economy and youth TAT organisation that is offered to 6th and 9th graders in Finland.

Premises for 19 different companies and public services have been built at Yrityskylä. Orion has been a partner of the Yrityskylä for 6th graders learning concept for two school years already and the third year is currently in progress. The cooperation will continue for another three-year period starting in 2021.

In the Yrityskylä society, every wheel is important

The day at Yrityskylä began with an introductory meeting where the citizens were acquainted with the rules of society: treat everyone with respect, look after your well-being with sufficient breaks, and be a responsible citizen and recycle your waste.

The pupils nodded and a moment later the streets of the miniature society were filled with a joyful bustle. At Fortum the employees were given hard hats, at Terveystalo the doctors were given white coats and at the café the baristas were grinding coffee by hand. The mayor rushed off to get luncheon vouchers for the employees, while elsewhere the importance of good customer service was being emphasised and at Orion a researcher was explaining the molecule structure of vitamin D to the CEO and production and product managers.

At mini-Orion, the pupils gathered around tablet computers to read the various job descriptions. The researcher’s task was to carry out various tests on vitamin D to discover the product’s solubility and durability. The production manager’s task was to start production of the vitamin supplement and the product manager’s task was design a new look for the packaging. In charge of this crowd was the CEO, whose tasks included holding team meetings, paying bills and salaries, and representing Orion at the introductory meeting.

"This is fun," exclaims Liisa, the CEO of mini-Orion, and everyone agrees.

Excellent opportunity for companies to raise awareness of their field

The pupils selected for the jobs applied for the jobs they wanted with job applications.

"Pupils who are interested in mathematics and the natural sciences usually apply for Orion," says Heidi Enbacka, Regional Manager of Yrityskylä. 

This year, grown-up Orionees were also given the chance to see what goes on at Yrityskylä, as Yrityskylä put out a request for instructors from its partner companies. The purpose of the instructors is to offer pupils support and mentoring, while giving them enough space to experience their own eureka moments.

"It was lovely to watch the young people getting excited about something and gaining insights. The pupils told us that they learned a lot about the different companies and realised how challenging it is to stick to schedules. They also said they had learnt cooperation skills. It's great that Orion is supporting pupils in such a fun and educational way,” say Sabrina Alanen, Medical Advisor, AH, and Anu Linna, Compliance Manager, Purchasing & Logistics, from Orion.

Yrityskylä gains international recognition

The Yrityskylä experience is very popular with pupils and something they remember for a long time. The Yrityskylä concept has already been in operation for ten years, and 75% of all 6th graders are given the opportunity to participate in it. In 2014 Yrityskylä was recognised as the world’s best education innovation by the international education organisation IPN. Now in 2020, Yrityskylä has been selected for the list of the 100 most interesting and inspiring educational concepts that is maintained by the international HundrED organisation.

“Even though we already have a relatively large amount of experience, it is great to see that Yrityskylä is still a socially interesting and topical issue,” says Heidi Enbacka.

“Gameplay is part of the concept. Pupils gain a positive and fun experience while learning in practical terms about what happens at meetings or how to pay bills. The pupils learn about the most essential matters and concepts of society, working life and the economy, such as the difference between the public and private sector, progressive taxation and why interest is paid on loans. They also vote and get their own bank card,” says Regional Coordinator Maija Silvo.

Greater understanding of working life through experience

Yrityskylä provides companies an important channel for implementing their corporate social responsibility, raising awareness of their field and creating a positive employer image.

“Yrityskylä is an excellent channel for influencing young people as it provides them with knowledge on the operations of society and businesses through experiences. By participating in Yrityskylä, we can also increase young people's interest in natural sciences,” says Jouni Turunen, Orion's VP of Human Resources.

“Research has shown that financial literacy prevents mental health problems and thus potentially also the risk of social exclusion. The impact of Yrityskylä on young people's future career choices and success could be explored further,” says Heidi Enbacka.

At the end of the working day, a group of contented, rosy-cheeked pupils set off home buzzing with all their new knowledge of Finnish society and working life.

"Perhaps I could come to work for Orion in the future," says Ella, researcher at mini-Orion.


Text: Anni Turpeinen

January 31, 2020