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Skills for Life

In Finland, thousands of youngsters are taking preparatory courses for vocational education (Valma-courses) in search of a direction in life. The Skills for Life -project helps Valma-students discover their strengths by creative and encouraging exercises in art workshops and coaching classes. As a part of the project, famous Dreamsters visit the youth groups to give inspiring and emboldening talks based on their own life experiences.

In the Skills for Life-project, youngsters discover their strengths and strengthen their faith in the future through creative exercises.  

The Skills for Life -project reaches annually approximately 300 Valma-students aged 16–29. The project takes an artistic approach, creating shared activities and experiences through the art of circus, short film, music, life skill coaching classes, and Dreamster-visits.

Every year thousands of youngsters go without access to education in degree programs. If allowed to continue, this situation can lead to welfare impediments, such as difficulties with making a living as well as marginalization. Skills for Life is a cooperative project, involving professionals and expertise from several different fields, aimed towards supporting students in preparatory courses for vocational education. Creative exercises in art workshops, coaching, and talks given by Dreamsters as a part for Valma-studies promote youngsters’ opportunities to find their place in society and to build a future they can see themselves in.

In the art workshops, Valma-students work with professional artists through the medium of short film, music, or circus. They take part in a creative process that culminates in a work of art of their own making.

In the coaching classes, participants get to strengthen their life skills and their work-life related know-how with the guidance of youth coaches. The coaches are university students who receive their coach training in the Children and Youth Foundation’s annual seminars as a part of their studies.

The Dreamsters’ school visits strengthen youngsters’ faith in the future. The visits consist of a talk as well as a meeting with the Valma-group. The Dreamsters illustrate, through their own life experiences, how everyone can find their strengths, and that everyone has a right to follow their dreams.

The Skills for Life -teacher training provides teachers working in Valma-education with creative tools for supporting young people in need of specialized guidance. The benefits of the training provided for teachers are directly targeted at their students.

Our collaborators in Valma-education are Turku Vocational Institute TAI, Salo Region Vocational College SSKKY, Tampere Vocational College Tredu, Keuda Group Vocational Education and Training, Western Uusimaa Municipal Training and Education Consortium Luksia, The Joint Authority of Education in the Espoo Region Omnia, and Vocational College Live.

The coaches come from Humak University of Applied Sciences, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, as well as University of Helsinki.

Art workshops are carried out in collaboration with Sirkus Magenta, Resonaari and Pirkanmaan elokuvakeskus, as well as teaching artists Hanna Mäkinen and Juhani Kakko.

Skills for Life

Duration: 2015–2022 

Target group: Valma-students in preparatory courses for vocational education aged 16-29, Valma-teachers, and students of relevant majors at Humak University of Applied Sciences, Tampere University of Applied Sciences and University of Helsinki. 

Funding: STEA, the Starckjohann Foundation

Number of participating youth: We reach approximately 300 Valma-students annually through workshops, and 2 000 upper secondary level students through Dreamster-visits. In addition to youngsters, we reach around 40 university students a year through coach-training, as well as another 40 or so teachers through teacher-training.  

Region of operation: Southwest Finland, Tampere Region, and Uusimaa Region.  

More info

Anna-Liisa Parkkinen


050 308 4215

Anna Jussilainen


050 320 7273

Linda Lopperi


040 145 7447

Liisi Virta


040 707 7763

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