New publication for immigrant educators (28th August 2014)

In addition to language, work is often considered the key to society for immigrants. As a prerequisite for employment, one must usually have certain level of education and training. This, however, may turn out challenging to achieve in a study group of students with widely varied linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

These challenges have now been tackled with in the so called change laboratory. During the seven-month project a new model called the strand model was created. It is a new kind of model for intercultural vocational education and concerns four major areas of tension in intercultural education: the workplace, teaching activities, school practices, and cultural learning practices. The project was organised at the Helsinki City College of Social and Health Care and it involved students with an immigrant background, their teachers, and the management of the institute.

Instead of separate subjects, the model concentrates on occupational cultural practices. The name “strand model” depicts the fact that vocational competence consists of various aspects, which can be observed separately. However, in the practical teaching work these aspects usually intertwine like strands in a rope. In immigrant education in Finland, especially the Finnish language studies and vocational studies are strongly interconnected.

The English publication is targeted at teachers of immigrant students, as well as everyone else interested in immigrant education. The publication is freely available online at

The change laboratory process was conducted as part of a Finnish Academy study called OPCE-project (Opening Pathways to Competence and Employment for Immigrants). The aim of the project was to examine to what extent immigrants’ previous competences are recognised and how this affects their employment, career advancement, and access to education.

Further information:

Publication: Challenges of Intercultural Vocational Education and Training: Developing a Strand Model in the Change Laboratory. Marianne Teräs, Johanna Lasonen, Maria Nuottokari. Finnish Institute for Educational Research 2014.