Hyria Education’s natural resources campus Uumo offers vocational training for young people and adults in a pleasant rural landscape in Hyvinkää. The campus is a scenic environment where natural resources management is educated on a teaching farm. Who are Uumo’s five hundred students, and how is sustainable thinking included in teaching?
Natural resources education manager Terhi Kostamo says: “70% of our students are from the rolling admission, i.e., adults with work experience. The rest are young people who come through the joint application system. The students are mainly from the Helsinki capital region and nearby areas. Nowadays, basic knowledge about natural resource sectors is wanted and needed. We teach everything from agriculture to horticulture and forest studies, as well as train nature instructors and wilderness guides. In addition, the campus offers training in business management and entrepreneurship, along with cleaning and real estate services. Construction builder and log builder students also study and work on campus regularly.
It is estimated that in ten years, more than half of the students at vocational schools will have an immigrant background. Most of Finland’s work-related immigration comes to the Uusimaa region, where Hyvinkää is situated. If you think of companies needing a competent, multinational workforce, this is where our strength lies. In some areas, we at Hyria are already far ahead in teaching students with immigrant backgrounds and in ensuring that they graduate for working life with sufficient knowledge of the Finnish language.
Setting sustainable goals
Hyria conducts extensive sustainable development work and had its carbon footprint mapped for the first time in 2019. Uumo’s campus coordinator Juulia Juslin is also Hyria’s sustainable development expert. She says: “At Hyria, climate and environmental responsibility has been raised as a strategic priority. We have three certified sustainable development education fields, one of which is the education of natural resources at the Uumo campus.
The Finnish National Board of Education has set a goal that vocational education should be carbon-neutral by 2035. We are involved in a project where 61 educational institutions are committed to promoting the green transition. We carry out carbon footprint mapping, train personnel in sustainable development and encourage certifications. All Hyria’s basic vocational qualifications include a mandatory online course on promoting sustainable development. In addition, since the fall of 2022, the students can choose an optional part of the professional degree called Climate responsible action. It includes an introductory online course on climate responsibility, in addition to which the student familiarises themself with climate responsibility in their field through assignments and on-the-job learning in companies and organisations.”
Terhi Kostamo says: “Environmental responsibility is widely taken into account in the education of natural resources. When we assess how, for example, milking a cow or repairing a tractor looks, we also discuss how environmental issues are included. Similarly, when the students are on on-the-job training, we go on-site to assess the student’s skills concerning the requirements of the degree. We evaluate how environmentally friendly material choices, recyclability or carbon balance are realised.
Let’s take Valio as a case in point. It is a Finnish food company that processes and markets mainly dairy products. Valio’s goal is carbon-neutral milk by 2035. The aim is promoted, for example, by encouraging milk producers to grow grass pastures. Our teaching farm is also included in Valio’s carbon-neutral program, and the environmental certificate we received is based on, for example, grass cultivation. Through practice, students learn about business cooperation, innovative activities and the basics of sustainable development.”
Hyria Education is a multidisciplinary educational institution offering vocational education and training to both young and adult students in the Hyvinkää and Riihimäki region. The range of services includes basic vocational qualifications (IVET), further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications in 27 different educational sectors.
The international activities of Hyria Education focus on the mutual exchange of students, faculty and staff in cooperation with foreign educational institutions and networks. Hyria has awarded the Erasmus+ accreditation in 2015.