Although working life has become ever more international, openings for apprentices to gain experience abroad have until recently been quite limited. The Finnish projects OpsoProCentral and OpsoProMetro are multidisciplinary networks that create just such opportunities.
The 2 related projects were both initiated in 2009 10 by the Finnish Association of Organizers of Apprenticeship Training. They share objectives, but operate in different regions of Finland. OpsoProCentral is a national partnership of vocational institutions and local businesses in western and central Finland, coordinated by Sedu vocational college. OpsoProMetro, coordinated by the Helsinki Apprenticeships Bureau, has a partnership covering mainly southern Finland. Both projects have extensive international partnerships in a number of other European countries.
The OpsoPro projects help apprentices become more internationally qualified through a focus on communication and language skills. Finnish companies also benefit from the new skills and know-how bought by foreign apprentices.
One of the main goals – and outcomes – of these Leonardo funded projects has been to develop uniform quality standards for exchange activities among network members. The projects have also made active use of the work done by the EuroApprenticeship network.
The OpsoPro consortia have made international placements more visible among Finnish apprenticeship education bodies and promoted closer cooperation with business, both within Finland and beyond. And the support of the network has improved both the quantity and quality of the placements, and apprenticeship training in general.