Subcontracting Trade Fair
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The Subcontracting Industry Needs Future Talent

Column  25.05.2018

The PISA and TIMMS study results released in the autumn of 2017 revealed that the level of skills in natural sciences and mathematics has significantly weakened in Finland; and additionally the international comparison showed that the gap between boys’ and girls’ skills was greater than before. In Finland, girls on average do better in mathematics and natural sciences than boys but mostly they do not go into professions requiring these skills. In the seemingly egalitarian Finland, the choice of a profession suffers from more gender-bias than in any other country in Europe. This is alarming also considering the future need for expertise in the subcontracting industry.

Regarding subcontracting, part of my job is to think about future issues with competence and attractivity particularly in the manufacturing of rubber and plastic. I actively meet with teachers, guidance counsellors, decision-makers, youth and youth workers, as well as different groups of stakeholders connected to employment and natural sciences. I try to do my best to ensure that manufacturing businesses operating in Finland will have capable employees also in the future. However, I have surprisingly often come across an impression that there would not be work for future talent in the subcontracting or other manufacturing industries. This could not be further from the truth! In the future, we will need all kinds of talent, but particularly the kind who can understand causal relations, responsibly develop production processes, and innovate as well as solve client issues.  At the heart of all this, lay natural sciences. However, it is difficult for youth to become interested in something of which they do not have enough knowledge. Many students inadvertently restrict their own future opportunities by only taking the minimum required number of courses in natural sciences in secondary education.

In my opinion, we adults, and particularly those of us representing manufacturing industries, are responsible for providing the right kind of information on manufacturing industries and on who we wish to employ in the future. It is likely that many teenagers simply do not realise that they might consider some day working for example with the highly skilled development of rubber products meant for challenging conditions or with the development of more durable composites. In the manufacturing industries, we can help communicate these opportunities by taking in lower secondary school students for work practice, providing placement opportunities for teachers of natural sciences and mathematics, working together with schools, or simply just by speaking positively about working in manufacturing professions. This is taking responsibility over future expertise.

This year we would like to do our deed and talk about the possibilities of manufacturing with guidance counsellors and teachers at the Subcontracting Fair. It is a good place to start, for example by talking about your own job to a student or teacher who stops at your stand. We are the best people to communicate the importance of our own work!

See you in September in Tampere!

Anni Siltanen, Specialist, Skills and Competence
Kemianteollisuus ry – the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland