In the ESF-funded Working-Life Oriented Open Higher Education –project (2015–2018), the key objective was to build competence modules for the both employed and unemployed experts of various fields based on the nationwide open university offering of higher education institutes in Finland. Three universities of applied sciences (Diakonia University of Applied Sciences, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Karelia University of Applied Sciences), five universities (University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland, University of Jyväskylä, University of Turku, Åbo Akademi) and an enterprise (Yrityssalo Oy) participated in the implementation of the the project. Central organisations like Akava, EK, KT, SAK, STTK, Suomen yrittäjät and local companies together with organisations of public sector were important partners in collaboration. The project was coordinated by the University of Turku.
The aim was to respond to the know-how needs of sectors facing growth and restructuring and to promote the working life oriented education of the open university. The objectives of the open university education were to network better with the working life, to profile the strengths of universities and of universities of applied sciences and to arrange guidance and teaching in a more customer-oriented way. The pilots were carried out in the fields of ICT, social services and health care, and bioeconomy-environmental field. The launching of the pilots was evaluated, which allowed the operations model to be developed iteratively during the project.
The result of the project is an operations model in which the open universities and universities of applied sciences work as a cooperation network carrying out working life oriented open university education. The know-how modules of different fields are defined and reformed regularly with central organisations of working life.
The starting point of the project was to create an agile and sustainable operations model to help open university organizations answer rapidly to the needs for various new skills in growth and structural change sectors. The competence modules were developed in three pilot areas: 1) bioeconomy and environmental field 2) social services and health care and 3) information technology sector. These growth sectors were selected for piloting, in order to answer their high demand for new skills in the coming years with higher education studies. Piloted areas were different, which provided an opportunity to develop and experiment with a variety of modelling approaches.
The publication and the web-based workbook introduce a central output of the AVOT-project, an operations model for the designing and implementation of a working life oriented competence modules. A sustainable model can be utilized by higher education institutes when creating the new working life oriented competence modules. The model was developed throughout the project and was based on pilots’ assessment. These seven steps will conduct universities in creating new collaborative modules:
- Identifying the skills needed,
- establishing a network of co-operation,
- building a competence module,
- organization of administration and study counselling,
- marketing and
- teaching and study guidance
The web-based workbook is open to everyone. The workbook (published in Finnish) is suitable for all kinds of educational planning and serves as a good tool for designing and implementing new collaborative competence modules.