Exchanging ideas and making contacts in Stockholm

In October, the Nordplus programme gathered 186 participants to a contact seminar in Stockholm.

In October, the Nordplus programme gathered 186 participants to a contact seminar in Stockholm. The participants from all the eight Nordplus countries spent both breakfast, lunch and dinner explaining and understanding, in order to explore future cooperation within one of the Nordplus programmes.

Presentations, project examples and workshops contributed to facilitate and inspire new and innovative project ideas within several different topics. The main themes for the contact seminar were improving cooperation between education and working life, and the use and understanding of Nordic languages.

Several project ideas within these two subjects were discussed and developed during the seminar, and among these was Innovation Camp, a project aiming to improve the conditions for entrepreneurial education. Angelika Grande from Nord-Trøndelag County Council had a clear vision for the project, and came to Stockholm searching for an Icelandic partner. This was accomplished already on the first evening, before the seminar had even started. If the application receives support, the Innovation Camp project will gather Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish partners from schools, innovative companies and innovation centres to entrepreneurial camps in the different countries.

The importance of entrepreneurial education was also underlined by Steven Hunter Lindqvist from Lugnetgymnasiet in Sweden. Research has shown that students’ brain activity in a lecture is equal to the level of brain activity when watching TV, showing that the students become passive recipients. Entrepreneurial education is active and relevant learning, and when involving society it also makes the students better equipped for working life.

Entrepreneurial spirit among the participants

Hunter Lindqvist, being one of the facilitators at the contact seminar, also noted a lot of activity and entrepreneurial spirit among the seminar participants. Among the sought-after representatives from working life was Johanna Ingvarsdottir from Innovation Centre Iceland (ICI). ICI works to implement innovation and entrepreneurship at all education levels and connect with work life. Ingvarsdottir was open for all kinds of projects when coming to Stockholm, and found several promising project ideas. Among these were the Innovation Camp project and a project on female entrepreneurship with a partner from Lithuania.

Riitta Viittala from Järvenpään lukio in Finland also focussed on cooperation between schools and companies, and found the seminar very useful. She met potential partners from Sweden and Lithuania already the first evening, and on the last day of the seminar, the project idea fell into place.

High demand for a well educated labour force

Bertil Østberg, Swedish State Secretary at the Ministry for Education and Research, and Kaj Hansson, HR Manager at Arctic Paper, both underlined that there is a high demand for a well educated labour force both nationally and internationally. It is thus important that education and working life cooperate to attract the best students. The Nordplus-programmes can be an instrument to facilitate this and increase quality in education.

Cooperation across sectors

One of the participants that came to Stockholm with a clear idea but ended up with a completely different project was Anne Srove from Verdal vocational college. Anne was looking for a partner within health and social care to explore what teachers can learn from one another regarding in-depth study projects. During the seminar however, she met potential partners from vocational schools in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Estonia within all fields of vocational education and training. They discussed the possibility of starting up a project to develop a method that can be used for all VET programmes in working with in-depth study projects and training.Skrove was an exchange student herself, and believes this contributes to her motivation for internationalisation of education. She is of the opinion that both students and teachers have a lot to gain from becoming more international.

New ideas and networks

The air was buzzing with project ideas among the 186 participants, and those who did not leave Stockholm with a concrete project idea had the opportunity to make new contacts and expand their Nordic-Baltic network. Hopefully this results in many good applications to all the Nordplus programmes in the next application round.

The application deadline for all Nordplus projects is 1 March 2014.