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Training competitions help everyone to succeed – "We share a common passion, regardless of country or location”

The Pâtisserie and Confectionery skill organised an international training camp at Saimaa Vocational College Sampo, inviting all countries participating in WorldSkills Lyon 2024. Finnish exponents of the skill have found that it pays to meet and share information.


Saimaa Vocational College Sampo was busy during the Taitaja-week. On the Friday after the Finnish national competition, the pastry chef-confectioners' work facilities were visited by a bunch of guests rarely seen there, when the weekend-long training camp Pastry Camp Finland began.

“The aim of the camp is to get to know Competitors and Experts from other countries, as this makes it much easier to compete in the competition itself. Our mission is to make the confectionery sector more visible worldwide. We all share a common passion, regardless of country and place, wherever we meet", says the National Skill Manager Markku Vengasaho from Sampo Vocational College.

The first training camp was held last year, and the good experiences gained from it made it a good tradition to continue. This year, invitations were sent to all countries participating in Pâtisserie and Confectionery skill at WorldSkills Lyon 2024. In the end, participants (Competitors and Experts) came from five countries: Austria, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Chinese Taipei.

“This is our first time in a camp in Finland. I heard so many good things about this last year that we decided to participate now. Training competitions are a good way to get to know people from other countries and learn about stress management, among other things. You always learn something new,” says Cees Bakker who has worked as an Expert for the Netherlands since 2015.

From Finland, the camp was attended by Competitor Erika Ukkonen and Expert Juliana Hokkanen (both from South Savo Vocational College, Esedu) as well as by Skill Manager Markku Vengasaho and EuroSkills Chief Expert Outi Suopanki from Sampo Vocational College.

Training weekend schedule


Thursday The delegations travelled to Lappeenranta. The delegations paid their own travel costs, but stayed in the same hotel within walking distance of the training venue.

Friday Training in the preparation of desserts and chocolate decorations by Guilherme Guise and Eija Kuningas. In the evening, a get-to-know-you session over dinner.

Saturday Exploring Finnish culture and flavours. Under the guidance of expert Juliana Hokkanen, the guests made blueberry pie with rye crust as well as other desserts using Finnish berries. Under the guidance of Markku Vengasaho, the guests were able to make traditional Karelian pies. The evening was spent relaxing at a summer cottage, taking a sauna, swimming and tasting Finnish flavours.

Sunday Competition: the task was to create two marzipan bears decorated with sugar, themed on the Paris Olympics. The experts also had the chance to practise judging.

The cost of the camp was €250 per country to cover the cost of ingredients. Each participant paid their own travel and accommodation costs.

Praise for the atmosphere and organisation


This year's camp was once again a great success. The guests particularly appreciated the genuine and warm atmosphere and the well-managed arrangements. Finland's early summer and the warm weather over the weekend made for a great time to explore Finland from an environmental point of view.

“There was also much praise from the experts afterwards, with one of them saying a week after the camp that they were still feeling amazed at our hospitality and the standard of our camp arrangements. We received invitations to visit the other countries, and we also agreed on future cooperation in the form of training”, says Outi Suopanki.

Markku and Outi plan to continue the activity and organise their own Pastry Camp next year for those preparing for the EuroSkills competitions.

The competitors also said they had learned a lot of new things.

“I had a really good feeling about the camp and I’m grateful that I was able to participate. The main thing that stuck in my mind was how gutsy the other competitors are! In particular, I learned new sugar techniques and got a lot of inspiration for the future. I'm really looking forward to the summer training and the competition”, says Finnish competitor Erika Ukkonen, who has just won gold in the pastry chef-confectioner category at Taitaja.

Pastry Camp was made possible by the support of the "William ja Ester Otsakorven Säätiö" (eng. William and Ester Otsakorpi Foundation).