Almost every day, a group of twelve-year-olds put on UPM’s green work shirts at Lappeenranta and Viikki (Helsinki). “I am the future” is written on the shirts in local dialects. They truly are the builders of the future and at Yrityskylä, they get a taste of what it is really like to work for UPM.
Yrityskylä is a society for school children and 75% of Finland’s sixth grade pupils have already paid it a visit. Yrityskylä is a learning programme that culminates in a day spent in a learning environment: a miniature city where students work in a profession and earn money for their work. In addition, the students act as consumers and citizens, as part of Finnish society.
Every Yrityskylä is unique and reflects the economic structure of the surrounding area. This miniature city is comprised of real public services and enterprises and contributes to the development of students’ economic knowledge and working life skills. UPM is one of the first partners of Yrityskylä.
Real duties make learning more rewarding
Bioforest industry is not part of an adult’s everyday vocabulary, let alone that of twelve-year-old schoolchildren. In Yrityskylä, the aim is to make the duties carried out by the students resemble real duties at UPM. It is astonishing how quickly the children adopt their new roles and learn new, complex things. By doing and trying by themselves, the students bring their own personality and strengths to their duties. The most important element of Yrityskylä is that every student is able to succeed. Everyone’s contribution is equally valuable. The whole miniature city is like a puzzle in which everyone plays an important role. In this way, students learn that teamwork and strong interpersonal skills are vital in their everyday lives, as well as their future working lives.
Yrityskylä UPM employs a Vice President, a shop floor worker, a Communications and Marketing Manager and a researcher. UPM provides current expertise on the Finnish forest industry for Yrityskylä, and students have a chance to familiarise themselves with forests and the opportunities they offer, both as an employer and as an industry. The pedagogical experts at Yrityskylä adapt the expertise provided by UPM into learning that is rewarding for sixth grade students. Every task has a pedagogical purpose. This means that we can implement the Finnish curriculum in an innovative way. Skills related to working life and entrepreneurship are essential parts of the curriculum today.
The feedback from the students tells us that we are on the right path
The feedback from the students after a day Yrityskylä always makes us smile. The day could almost be described as a generational experience – even students in lower grades are talking about it. The stories that older siblings and friends tell about the day generate excitement and anticipation among the younger students. The day is important as it is the first taste that twelve-year-olds get of working life, made possible by UPM and others. After a day spent at Yrityskylä many students say that they are more confident about working life and more interested in it, too. Most students also say that the day spent at Yrityskylä was their best school day ever. A day as a UPM employee is a fun and unforgettable experience that gives students a positive memory of working life, experiences of success and knowledge about the options they have for the future.