Etelä-Kymenlaakso Vocational College (Ekami) is a multi-disciplinary education institution with over 7,000 students. The College organises vocational basic education and training for 2,1000 students in Kotka and Hamina, on the south-eastern coast of Finland. Vocational adult education and apprenticeship training are both flexibly organised to meet the needs of the working life. The College has approx. 5,500 students participating in adult education and apprenticeship training. Ekami’s “Coastal Workshops” annually organise workshop activities for over 500 young people in Kotka, Hamina, Pyhtää, Miehikkälä, and Virolahti.
Ekami’s objective is to be able to respond to development of know-how in the region’s working life. As a local actor, the College focuses its operation at the same important fields of work in which investments are being made through the region’s labour and commercial policies. Ekami’s operation is divided among three units led by the Joint Educational Authority’s director/principal Sami Tikkanen. Vocational basic education and training is led by the deputy principal Ulla Jaskari; vocational adult education and training and apprenticeship training by deputy principal Annu Jokela-Ylipiha, and the workshop activity for young people by workshop director Virpi Jonsson.
Ekami is the 7th largest employer in the area; there are some 400 Ekami staff members. In addition to teaching and workshop staff, Ekami has staff engaged in administration, real-estate management, student care, catering, and teaching support staff. Our premises are located in Kotka and Hamina. Our operation is steered by the values of the Joint Educational Authority: customer-centredness, trustworthiness, communality, and fairness. We are in constant need of fresh and motivated professionals to become members of our expert community to train experts meeting the needs of the working life, to support individual development, and to participate in the development of the commercial life.
The objective of vocational basic education and training is to provide the students with the necessary knowledge and skills and abilities to engage in self-reliant practising of their chosen vocations. A further objective is to support the students' development into good, balanced people, and members of society. Vocational qualification provide the students with broad-in-scope skills and knowledge on entering the working life, and in addition the students gain more specialised expertise in some area of their studies.
Ekami organises vocational basic education and training leading to 24 vocational qualifications, home economics school instruction, vocational start training, education and training coaching immigrants for vocational courses of study, and training and steering education provided as remedial teaching. Vocational basic education and training is also open to senior secondary school graduates. Their studies are 0.5–1 year shorter as a result of their senior secondary school studies being credited insofar as the associated educational arrangements of their field of study allow this. The 3-year vocational qualification studies provide students with a general eligibility to continue on to further higher education studies.
The scope of the degree is 120 credits (1 credit corresponds to a student’s average 40 hour work input).Of the total, 90 credits are made up of the vocational parts of the qualification and learning-at-work, 20 credits are made up of elements supporting vocational studies (e.g. mathematics, Finnish), and 10 credits are made up of freely elective elements. Studies take place mainly at schools and colleges, but at least 20 credits are earned by participating in learning-at-work. A vocational qualification can be completed either as studies at an educational institution or in the form of an apprenticeship agreement.
The task of vocational adult education and training is to offer working-life-oriented vocational education and training meeting the needs of commercial life. Vocational adult education and training provides students with the abilities and skills needed in the life to develop as individuals and as employees, and to improve their chances of finding employment. The working-age population is provided with good opportunities for developing their know-how by participating in the adult education and training, the preconditions for switching to another vocation are improved, and the adult population’s level of education and competence are enhanced. Success in present-day working life requires constant updating and enhancing of one’s know-how. The need for adult education and training has become increasingly significant, and especially so as a result of the changed situations in the commercial life. Adult can flexibly learn new vocations, deepen and update their know-how in specific fields of work, and promote their career development.
Ekami’s Adult Education profit centre offers educational and development services meeting the needs of enterprises, communities, and private persons. Every year, some 5,000 adults study at Ekami. Ekami arranges adult education and training as a form of self-reliant vocational basic education and training and as vocational further education, labour-force training, apprenticeship training, and personnel training. Ekami’s offering of vocational qualifications is comprised of 24 basic qualifications, 30 vocational qualifications, and 8 special vocational qualifications. Our cooperation network enables the offering of studies leading to more than 100 vocational qualifications. Apprenticeship training can also be arranged to cover such qualifications and courses of study as are not included in Ekami’s educational offering. In addition, we organise vocational supplementary education, various competence courses, and other short-term training. We also offer customised educational services to our corporate and community customers enabling these customers to make use of these services in improving their competitiveness and recruit skilled employees.
Workshops for Young People, a.k.a. Coastal Workshops, is the name of the unit offering coaching for working life and job creation for young (under 25 years of age) in the Kotka-Hamina-Virolahti-Pyhtää-Miehikkälä area by way of periods of work, workplacement, and training periods. Coastal Workshops support and steer young people in a comprehensive manner towards managing their personal lives, towards achieving, strengthening, and maintaining the abilities to take part in working life opportunities. Young people are directed to come to these Coastal Workshops by employment office staff and staff at educational institutions. Every young person is interviewed and the workshop period is put together with due consideration for the person’s individual needs.
Coastal Workshops are comprised of ten units at which the young people work under the guidance of an instructor/instructors. The jobs allocated by Coastal Workshops consist of work undertakings from private customers and local councils. The units are as follows: Kitchen Workshop, Textiles Workshop, Woodwork Workshop, Labour Service Workshop, Data Workshop, Art Workshop (in Kotka), Home Workshop and Building Caretaker Workshop (in Hamina), Frontier Workshop (digital press, in Virolahti,) and Start Workshop for under 17-year-olds left without education.
Kotka is the second largest city in Kymenlaakso County. It is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Finland, at the estuary of Kymi river. Kotka is known by its port, industry and maritime festivals. Kotka is also known as a multifaceted city of educational institutions and culture. The characteristics of Kotka are based on the sea and Kymi river. The population is about 55.000.
The area is 750 km2, but most of it is water, 272 km2 is land. Kotka is located 130 km east from Helsinki and 290 km west from St. Petersburg; the highway no 18 runs through Kotka. In the city there are two centres, Kotkansaari (the Isle of Kotka) and Karhula.
Kotka has a fascinating history which is still evidenced by the remnants of fortress structures. The Ruotsinsalmi fortress town was established at the location of the present Kotka in the late 18th and early 19th century. The location on the border of Sweden-Finland and Russia left many traces in local life. Kotka was granted township rights in 1878.
A vibrant sawmill community emerged very quickly in the town situated at the mouth of the river Kymijoki. And when an ideal place for a harbour was found, Kotka had all the ingredients to become an international town. Dozens of ships used to be moored at the harbour simultaneously, and loading and unloading of ships provided work for the local people. Sailors who arrived with the ships spent several weeks in Kotka. Many international influences streamed into Finland through ports. Kotka was certainly one of these channels.
Hamina is situated on the Gulf of Finland, 150 kilometres east of Helsinki. The distance to the Vaalimaa border crossing post on the border between Finland and Russia is 40 kilometres and to St Petersburg 240 kilometres. The arterial highway E18 runs through Hamina. The location of Hamina on the easternmost border of the European Union provides it with excellent facilities for developing businesses.