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Maria Ekroth: Strength from cooperation

Maria Ekroth started as the CEO of Skills Finland in March 2021 when the long-time CEO Eija Alhojärvi retired.

Maria Ekroth

  • CEO of Skills Finland as of 25 March 2021.ekroth_maria_kuva_roni_lehti_0146_300px.jpg
  • Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration, completed a cook's vocational qualification at Espoon Palvelualojen Oppilaitos.
  • Previous jobs: worked as the CEO at Lastenklinikoiden kummit ry, her own event sector company Luna Zelante Oy, the Finnish Rheumatism Association and the event agency Factor Nova. Also taught event production, entrepreneurship and branding at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.
  • Hobbies include going to the gym and group exercising, downhill skiing, audio books, cooking and organising theme parties.

Has something surprised you in your new job?

I knew the work would be meaningful. Still, young people's powerful stories about determined training, overcoming themselves, being successful or failing in competitions and getting over it have brought much deeper significance to the work than I could have anticipated.  

I am also positively surprised by the enthusiastic atmosphere in the vocational education and training network and the successful cooperation at both national and international level. The amount of vocational skills is enormous when top experts from different fields share their competence and work effort in order to achieve a common goal.

What will be new in 2022?

We believe in a culture of experimentation, boldly create new operating methods, study, collect feedback, continue development and create concepts that will stay relevant. One example of this is the new digital Taitaja platform, which is used to retain the know-how and completed concepts of previous Taitaja events to help the organisers of the following events.

We will systematically develop the competition activities of those with special needs, and we are currently building a cooperation network from educational institutions to do this work with us.

Launching the activities of the WorldSkills Occupational Standards Development Centre, and creating a multidisciplinary network to support its work, is one of the largest development measures this year.

We will also begin to systematically measure the results and impact of our work using various indicators tied to our objectives.

What do you particularly expect from this year?

Competition activities are based on multidisciplinary cooperation, which benefits all parties in vocational education and training. It is wonderful to continue this work. One of the objectives is to increase and diversify cooperation with companies by further expanding it to work related to the attractiveness of vocational education and training.

The Skills Talk Show seminar has received good feedback and will be continued in December. In the future, the seminar will be organised together with the Taitaja organiser of the following year. This year, we will organise it with Omnia, the Joint Authority of Education in the Espoo region.