Working life cooperation is beneficial for all the parties involved. LAB, by being the bridge between companies and students, becomes one of the major players driving the internationalization process of the Päijät-Häme region. Companies have now the chance to gain new business perspectives and to test how daily activities would be affected by international workforce. International students are valuable resources to Finnish businesses due to their linguistic and cultural background. Students have the full potential of becoming mediators for companies that want to operate abroad. Students will learn concrete skills, and by accessing a Finnish working environment, they have the chance to learn and practice the Finnish language by working. They can network and find the opportunities that will let them stay in the country when their studies are completed. Work-related projects are fundamental since they ease opportunities for career prospects.
Business Culture Agents project helps SMEs find international students in higher education
By giving the students the chance of applying their knowledge into the real business world, Business Culture Agents project helps local companies to find strategies to export their products or services, to open up to diversity at work, and eventually to create new forms of employment. Erika Bottacci is the project coordinator for BCA. She contributes with her previous experience as an international student at LAB and as a foreign employee in Päijät-Häme. During her internship in Häme Chamber of Commerce Erika studied, relating to her thesis, the Finnish labor market and the trends that will affect western economies in the next decades. The results of her study confirmed the reasons why international students find it hard to find employment in Päijät-Häme and how the business potential of local companies can be amplified with the presence of foreign employees.
The BCA project, supported by the ERDF/Päijät-Hämeen liitto, emphasizes the cultural background of students, and uses it as a strategic asset. Students become aware of the position they assume as central nodes of their international networks. Business culture agents guide local companies in solving daily problems connected with language and intercultural barriers and get the opportunity of practicing the Finnish language tailored to work. They find valuable information and create plans that can help the case companies in targeted markets, at home or abroad, to finally propose business opportunities and suggest concrete methods and alternatives for branding and promotion.
International students are ready to get involved in new forms of cooperation with local businesses.
LAB focuses on how to improve student services
LAB University of Applied Sciences is invested in understanding how students perceive collaborative projects. This is one of the main goals of “Projektikevät 2020”. In this context, Teemu Iivari, a business student at LAB, found out that international students are seeking for better possibilities to connect with local companies. International students are highly motivated in taking part in projects when the outcomes are internships or thesis collaboration, but often students do not take part in them because they do not understand what the expectations are, what kind of skills are required, and if the projects are pertinent to their field of study. To improve students’ participation in such programs, promotion should be better planned, and to enhance the positive outcomes, strategies for creating proactive teams among the students should be improved. These results are relevant for the BCA project.
BCA is surely a win-win opportunity and provides companies a zero-budget solution to test how prepared employees are at welcoming a foreign presence, but also to consider new business opportunities and possibilities to expand abroad. More information can be found at: https://lab.fi/fi/projekti/BCA
Pictures: Henri Uotila
Text: Erika Bottacci
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