ArcticSkills brings together the youth from the Barents Region

ArcticSkills is a skills competition for vocational students from the Barents Region. The Barents Region is a name given to the land along the coast of the Barents Sea – the Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Initially the event was established by the Norwegians in 2016. The first ArcticSkills was held in Kirkenes, Norway in 2016. A year later in 2017 the event took over Murmansk, Russia before the event landed in Tornio, Finland in 2018. The main partners of the event are the Kolarctic programme, the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the North Calotte Council and the County of Finnmark.

ArcticSkills 2018 in Finland

The third ever ArcticSkills competition was held in Tornio, Finland from 17th to 18th of April 2018. The event was organized by a Finnish Vocational College Lappia.

This year’s event had competitors from Northern Finland (Inari, Rovaniemi, Tornio), Sweden (Haparanda), Norway (Kirkenes, Alta, Kautokeino and Vardø) and Russia (Murmansk, Taimyr). The 48 students competed in 14 skills, such as reindeer herding, welding, hairdressing and cooking.

In addition to the contestants, experts and young visitors from the local schools, many guests and spectators visited ArcticSkills in Tornio. Politicians, school administrators and representatives from trade unions were all sharing an interest in developing the vocational education in the Barents Region. The event gathered about 500 visitors in total.

The local importance

ArcticSkills has a significant role also from the organizer’s point of view. Ms Virpi Lilja, the Headmaster of this year’s event organizer Vocational College Lappia, thinks that organizing the event was a great and important experience.
– The students’ skills take major steps during the competitions. The competition is a lifelong experience for young people and it also gives courage to work in international environments, says Lilja.

However, ArcticSkills is not only a competition, but an event that has an important role in the collaboration between the different operators of the Barents Region.
– The collaboration is built at different levels, for example the teachers, students, the management and other operators. Above all, ArcticSkills is about creating networks between various educational organizations, states Virpi Lilja.

Skills Finland’s Executive Director Ms Eija Alhojärvi agrees with Lilja on the importance of regional skill competitions.
– This is an excellent example of how to utilize skills competitions for different kind of purposes, also at regional level. There seems to be a need for this kind of cooperation in the Barents Region. I’m so glad that Finland and Vocational College Lappia took the challenge this year. It is also great to know that the work will continue during the upcoming years, states Alhojärvi.

The road ahead

The tournament in Tornio is the end of a three-year pilot phase. During the past three years, the tournament has achieved great results that can be carried on in the future. In Tornio the board of ArcticSkills has therefore agreed to sign a new agreement for years to come, in order to continue the tournament and enhance a positive development of vocational skills in the Barents Region.

Next year the ArcticSkills event will return to its roots as ArcticSkills 2019 will be held in Kirkenes, Norway.

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