Learning work life skills of the future
Digitalization is changing the role of people at work. Important metaskills are studied in innovative learning environments, such as the HyMy Village of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
“Welcome to HyMy Village, how can I help you?”
Every third week Iida Kasslin, student of health care, sits behind the reception desk at HyMy Village on the campus of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Myllypuro. (hymy means ‘smile’ in Finnish)
HyMy Village is a multidisciplinary learning and development environment where Kasslin is studying innovation projects as a part of her curriculum. She is one of the Village representatives who participate in the Village’s daily routines and improvement activities.
Kasslin greets demonstration clients who come to the treatment appointments of for example students of oral hygiene, action therapy, or physiotherapy. She is also engaged one week at a time in public relations and communications tasks, as well as in development and innovation projects at the Village. In one such project, Kasslin together with other students, helped to set up workshops for an old people’s care facility in order to find problem areas and development targets. In another project, she and her small group held wellness workshops for entrepreneurs. Markus Määttänen, student of action therapy, attended the last-mentioned project; he is carrying out his work practice in the HyMy Village development project.
– The projects have been challenging and outside my own comfort zone. I’m happy to have to have had the chance to take part in them, she says.
Määttänen and Kasslin are both nearing the end of their studies. The basic know-how of their own professions has been learned, and in the HyMy village they are strengthening the metaskills needed in work life.
Creativity and emotional intelligence – important metaskills
As technology evolves further, the concept of the human being at the workplace becomes ever more humane.
In 2020 the World Economic Forum added emotional intelligence and strategic intelligence to the list of tomorrow’s most important work life skills. The previous list had been drawn up five years earlier, and in that short time the view of the needed skills had been up-dated significantly. Creativity and emotional skills override negotiating skills and the capability for assessment and decision-making.
– I keep practising my own professional role, and how to speak as a professional to others.
Of course, it has always been essential that a social and health care professional is first and foremost a compassionate human being when in contact with another human being.
Iida Kasslin believes that one of the most important work life skills is the ability to encounter people and encourage them to undertake changes. Clients seldom lack information, and that is why health professionals need emotional intelligence and an understanding of how information should be offered and people confronted, in order to motivate them in a positive direction.
– I keep practising my own professional role, and how to speak as a professional to others. I try to think how to give space to another person in an interactive situation, and I try to guess how much a person already knows about some topic.
The more effectively that machines handle information, the more important it is for a person to be innovative and flexible. The HyMy Village offers opportunities to strengthen also these skills.
Kasslin and Määttänen participated in a project aiming to set up face-to-face meetings for a client group. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the meetings had to be held digitally, so the students planned and implemented the workshops in a totally new way.
– We have to be ready to change and our IT skills must be in top shape. In addition, we should reorganize our thinking and be innovative, so that we can decide how the client meetings can be carried out remotely, says Määttänen.
Kasslin and Määttänen are also practising to tolerate continuous change.
– When things keep changing all the time, it’s useful to learn how to tolerate stress. Also problem-solving skills and decision-making are emphasized, says Määttänen.
Work life skills are practised together with professionals
The list of the needed work life skills is so impressive, that the question arises: Do we expect a student who enters work life to be some kind of a robot?
Not at all, says Kati-Annika Knief, who works as a home care instructor and supervisor of Myllypuro-2 local services providers. The City of Helsinki home care services unit has employed students from Metropolia. The students of HyMy Village have helped to set up workshops for development work also for another home care services unit.
Vehkaperä herself is optimistic about the new opportunities in work life and how they have been incorporated into the training.
– The old saying that there are no stupid questions, is still true, says Knief.
Students still come to the workplace to learn. And we don’t expect anyone who has just graduated to be a full-fledged professional with practical experience. Knief sees that curiosity and asking direct questions are valuable assets.
– We who have been in the same job for years can do things in a certain way just because it’s always been done that way. The students in the innovation projects aren’t familiar with our routines, so they may ask why don’t we do some things differently.
The more that students can work together with professionals, the more confident they become in their ways of working. That is why boldness and questioning of certain ways is encouraged also at school. It isn’t easy for everybody, says Ulla Vehkaperä, lecturer at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
– Some students are more ready than others to raise questions together with their teacher. For others it may even be difficult, if I ask their opinion or if I ask them for a counter-argument.
Cooperation and trust are needed, so that a health worker can share their work burden with other professionals.
Vehkaperä is responsible for the cooperation with enterprises and for coaching the village representatives. Vehkaperä herself is optimistic about the new opportunities in work life and how they have been incorporated into the training. She nevertheless sees challenges in the way they are taught.
– Working in HyMy Village requres self-direction and doesn’t suit everybody. A person’s self-awareness must be good. And you also need problem-solving skills, interaction skills, and the capacity to tolerate uncertainty. So these are qualities that we practise here.
Advantages of multiprofessional cooperation
According to Markus Määttänen, other studies outside the HyMy Village also provide useful resources for future work life. All in all, an independent grip on work is important, although at the same time many tasks are done in groups. Also in the HyMy Village the students work in collaboration with each other. It is extremely important, not only from the viewpoint of practising social skills, but also professionally.
– Burnout in the social and health care sector takes place rapidly today, if you happen to be the only person who is available to help patients in a stressing situation. Cooperation and trust are needed, so that a health worker can share their work burden with other professionals, says Ulla Vehkaperä.
Working in the multi-professional environment of HyMy Village provides experience also for these kinds of situations.
– Students of different disciplines work in the reception on different days. The purpose of this is to encourage students to exchange ideas. Multiprofessional contacts are very important, and I hope they will continue later also in work life.