Diversity Experts are trained in the Good Relations Project

Ministry of the Interior 6.2.2014 11.42
News item

The transnational Good Relations project develops and tests different methods to promote good relations between people with diverse backgrounds, and to combat racism, discrimination and xenophobia. The activities take place in Finland and Sweden during autumn 2013 and winter 2014.

One of the methods being developed in Finland is the five-month Diversity Expert Training Programme for job-seeking professionals in Helsinki, Tampere and Turku.

Art education to further diversity

The 25 professionals chosen to the training programme have diverse backgrounds in terms of their ethnic origin, age, gender, education and professional experience. Nevertheless, they all wish to improve their skills to promote positive interaction and combat racism and discrimination when practicing their own profession.

Art and drama teacher Gerard Cabarrocas Serra believes that art education is a good way to combat intolerance, promote cooperation and support positive interaction between people from different backgrounds. He carries out his on-the-job training at culture centre STOA in Helsinki.

- My aim is to create interaction situations where pupils feel safe. Art itself and different exercises are a good way to understand the source of conflicts, says Mr Cabarrocas Serra.

During his on-the-job training, Mr Cabarrocas Serra is involved in an art education project called ITU. He takes part in planning and assessment tasks and is also involved in organising workshops at schools, aimed at furthering diversity.

"The way I see the world has changed"

Another student, Outi Viitanen, a Bachelor of Social Services from Tampere says this training brings valuable supplementary know-how to her experience. She had high expectations of the training, especially of the 65-day on-the-job training period.
 

- The on-the-job training at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tampere has been a positive experience. My duties include assisting in the productisation of an employment-related service for immigrants, says Ms Viitanen.

In her tasks, she is able to utilise both her basic education and the new skills acquired in the Diversity Expert Training.

- The way I see the world has changed during the training. I have become much more sensitive to the diversity of people and I believe this is an asset in customer service, where positive interaction and a respective attitude are useful aspects.

Rewarding on-the-job training

The 65-day on-the-job training period is an integral part of the training programme. It provides the students with the opportunity to put their new skills into practice. Due to the tight schedule, it proved to be difficult for some of the students to find an employer who would be willing to spare some time to guide them.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tampere accepted three students to different tasks. Deacon Heidi Repo says that the church wants to support people with their careers.

- As an employer, you have to be creative in finding appropriate tasks that will further the students' career. But when you do so, it is extremely rewarding for both the student and the employing organisation.

According to Ms Repo, the three students bring their expertise to the church by participating in duties such as equality planning and Finnish language teaching, as well as productisation.

Distance training

The training programme is organised by adult education institute Amiedu, in cooperation with two other adult education centres. Trainer Maija Joentaus from Amiedu says that the programme is built on multiform studies, which makes it quite demanding for both the students and the trainers.

- The students need to be very independent, and networking is a significant element of the training. Although we support the students in job searching, it is up to them how they will manage to sell their expertise to employers, says Ms Joentaus.

According to Ms Joentaus, the simultaneous lectures in three cities — Helsinki, Tampere and Turku — pose a challenge to technology. However, she believes that this kind of training programmes will become increasingly common in the future.

The Diversity Expert Training Programme is carried out as part of the Good Relations project, co-financed by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union.

Read more about the project