Competence must be ensured
The mechanical engineering sector is a key driver of exports in the Tampere region. There are dozens of global large as well as small and medium sized companies in the region that provide a total of 34,000 jobs. Of these, roughly 6,000 require vocational training. In 2021, the turnover of the technology industry in the Tampere Region was over 8 billion euros, the majority of which came from exports. In all of Finland, technology companies employ 319,000 persons directly and 670,000 persons indirectly. The age structure of the workers in the mechanical engineering sector is, however, somewhat imbalanced: every year in the Pirkanmaa region, roughly 500 professionals retire from the sector, but only around 200 persons graduate from vocational institutions to replace them.
Sustainable solutions must be found to the shortage of labour in the mechanical engineering sector, as this is the only way to ensure the funding of the welfare society also in the future. We are facing an unpreceded situation where the dynamics of the labour market have changed completely since the beginning of the millennium. Every year, the number of people exiting the labour market is roughly 30,000 higher than the number of people entering it, as regards people born in Finland. At the same time, all sectors are competing over the same people. Tampereen Teollisuusoppilaitos Oy addresses this challenge with a new strategy: https://konepajakoulu.fi/en/. The Engineering Academy helps companies find new professionals and provide precise training to their staff.
Even though there are plenty of similarities between machine shops as regards their skills requirements, the needs are often company-specific. There is a serious shortage of people with the basic skills: machining, welding, broaching, and grinding. Some companies need people who can operate several machines simultaneously, whilst others need people with expertise in small-volume production. Some use older machines that will last for several decades to come if only operators can be trained for them. Others have taken automation and robotics as far as possible, making process management the main skill that is needed.
To ensure that the training is as efficient as possible and will benefit the companies as much as possible, it is good to look slightly further ahead. The competence assessment of the Engineering Academy makes the skills available in the company and the work community visible and serves as the key development tool at both individual and organisation levels. In the competence assessment, the current and future needs of the organisation are compared, which enables the skills gaps to be filled with the required skills.
Fulfilling the labour needs of companies is about the quantity as well as the quality. The quality can be ensured when the training contents are designed based on the needs of the companies. However, the Finnish birth rate is too low to provide the required number of workers. In the next ten years, a total of 300,000–400,000 workers will be needed from outside Finland, some of whom will be employed in the mechanical engineering sector.
Columnist CEO Peer Haataja, Konepajakoulu, Tampereen Teollisuusoppilaitos Oy