Six panel board assemblers fresh from the oven – The apprenticeship in Pansia reached its end
The apprenticeship journey of the Winnova students, who began their training at the Promeco Pansia unit back in May, has come to an end. The final assessments for the diploma were conducted at the end of October, with all students passing the test with flying colours. The training program focused on a module related to distribution centre installation, which is part of the vocational qualification of the Electrical and Automation Industry.
The final ordeal
In the assessments, the students were challenged to assemble an electrical control centre for a fan starter. The test involved all steps of the process from gathering materials to equipment connections, inspections, and proper documentation. All six students completed the assessment independently using identical components. The assessment was executed as a real-life working task, as they resulted in proper electrical control centres. The ordeal was not made easy for the students; test errors were deliberately included to provide an additional challenge, given the advanced level of their skills.
Although the students had gained the necessary skills through hands-on experience during the summer, the preparations for the assessments began about a week in advance. During this time, more experienced Promeco employees supervised and guided the students in preparing the components, leaving the planned assessment parts undone. The supervisors observed the progress during the pre-preparations as part of the overall evaluation. Along the main assessment, students could seek assistance and clarification as needed. Asko Kuusijoensuu, the project supervisor of the apprenticeship program from Promeco, stated, “We didn’t want to make the assessment more difficult than necessary by banning help. On the contrary, all the questions and concerns raised were valuable. Asking appropriate questions is a skill that reflects the development of logical thinking in the field.”
The assessments were evaluated by two supervisors from Winnova and two from Promeco. Despite the students’ excellent performance throughout the summer, Kuusijoensuu was anyhow surprised by the positive results: “Even though the students came from different backgrounds with varying strengths, the results were consistently high. The quality of the assembly work was especially surprising, given that the tasks during the summer had been diverse, neither all of the theoretical knowledge was directly related to assembly tasks like this.”
Winnova also shared the same view in their assessment. In their final report, Winnova’s supervisors, Juhani Nygren and Ismo Eskelinen, highlighted the high motivation, commitment to the task, and customer-centric attitude displayed by the students. Promeco was also praised for well-organized assessment situations that reflected excellently real-world working conditions.
Six Months Learning Sprint
The students reflected their skills having improved significantly during the six-month study and work period. Many of them started from scratch, so the progress they made was notable. Sari, one of the students, shares her experience: “I used to work in the cultural sector and had never really worked with tools before. Exaggerating a bit, you can say that not only do I identify a hammer and a drill now, but also know how to use them and can work fairly independently.” Kuusijoensuu also confirmed significant development during the six-month period, stating: “You can see the students’ development concretely by looking at post-evaluation figures, which we can examine at the employee level. Among other things, product lead times have been reduced, and the number of quality defects has decreased. The figures also show how the variation in starting levels due to different backgrounds have evened out over the summer.”
What’s in Store for Tomorrow?
And how do the students feel now that they have the certificates with fresh ink in their hands? All six students agree with smiles, that actually it doesn’t feel particularly different, though noting the value of the achievement. “Because the studying has been so hands-on and similar to regular work, there hasn’t been much stress about the progress of the studies, and we haven’t really noticed it,” the students share their neutral feelings. Sari adds, “Of course, it’s great to get official confirmation of the acquired skills, especially when it’s been a completely new field for the most of us.” Almost all of the apprenticeship students agree that the best characteristics of this learning format are its practical nature and the opportunity to learn a wide range of new skills. Joni, another recent graduate, confirms this, saying, “It’s been motivating to do real work in the field. I’ve participated in various employment initiatives through the Employment Services before, and this has been hands down the best experience of them.”
With the qualified assessments, the apprenticeship program has come to its close, but work in the field continues as usual. As a result of the training program, Promeco has gained six new panel board assemblers, and their journey with the company will continue as official employees. “Overall, the apprenticeship program has been an excellent experience for us and exceeded our already positive expectations. We’ve also learned a lot to further improve our onboarding processes. In the future, we will be even better prepared for similar projects,” Kuusijoensuu describes Promeco’s outtake. “Currently, there is no need for new recruitment training, but we will certainly utilize this path in the future, especially since the collaboration with Winnova has proven to be effective. We also have ongoing cooperation with Winnova in terms of our employees participating in their degree programs in the electrical field. In the future, this is a potential opportunity also for these recent students, who can use their certificate to advance some parts of such degree studies,” Kuusijoensuu continues. The newly qualified panel board assemblers have not yet considered further education, as there is still plenty to learn in their new roles, but who knows what the future holds!