Seija Rasku: More than a decade in the Board of Skills Finland
Twenty years have passed since Seija Rasku's first visit to a skills competition and ten years since she was elected Chair of the Board. The past years have brought countless moments of joy and new lessons learned, both at home and abroad. But now it's time for a breath of fresh air as the Skills Finland Board elects a new Chair at its meeting in January 2022.
The Finnish National Agency for Education's project team at the opening ceremony of the WorldSkills Helsinki 2005 competition. From left: Tomi Karvinen, Heikki Saarinen, Tuija Kuisma, Elisa Tuominen, and Seija Rasku.
It feels like it happened yesterday. But it's been thirteen years since I joined the Skills Finland Board in 2009. I was immediately elected Vice-Chair of the Board and a member of the Bureau that prepares the Board meetings. I also got involved in the working group that develops the governance of the Association. Although I was already familiar with vocational education and training and skills competitions, I sometimes felt like I was out of my depth. However, during my time as Vice-Chair, I learned a lot of new things about both association work and skills competitions more broadly. These lessons came in handy when I was elected Chair of the Skills Finland Board in early 2012.
"I will remain on the Board until the end of my term, so my work for Skills Finland will continue – just in a new role."
So that’s ten years in a row as Chair of the Board of Skills Finland. Although the time has been immensely rewarding and has flown by in pleasant and inspiring company, it is time to pass on the Chair’s baton.
I was ready to step down after two terms, but I was persuaded by the then Bureau and Board members to stay on for another term. I think the rationale was that this would bring the current strategy period to a satisfactory conclusion and facilitate a smooth transition into the next strategy period without the need for major change. My third term as Chair of the Board of the Association ended a year ago. Even after that, I was ready to pass on the chair's baton. But as the Association’s executive director changed in the same year, it was in the best interests of the Association’s operations that the Chair of the Board did not change at the same time. So I stayed on for another year to support the new Executive Director in her early days at Skills Finland. Now that the new Executive Director, Maria Ekroth, is well up to speed with the Association’s activities, it is time for new life to flow at the head of the Association’s Board. I will remain on the Board until the end of my term of office, so my work for Skills Finland will continue – just in a new role.
Seija Rasku with Team Finland before EuroSkills Lille 2014.
"I got hooked on skills competitions at the Lahti Exhibition Centre in the spring of 2001."
I got hooked on skills competitions at the Lahti Exhibition Centre in the spring of 2001. At the time, I had dropped by Lahti on a day trip to see what was going on at the Taitaja training centre. And by the time I was in Imatra in 2002, I was completely sold and convinced that skills competitions were an excellent way of developing vocational education and training and making the opportunities they afford visible to those looking for their dream career, as well as to the wider world of work. International skills competitions were introduced at the 2003 WorldSkills in St. Gallen. Like many other Finns, I was in St. Gallen to learn about how Switzerland manages competitions and side events so that we could organise the WorldSkills in Helsinki in 2005 at least as well as we had previously done.
"I am immensely grateful for every moment, every partner, and every friend."
From left: Maria Atzmon, Seija Rasku, Eija Alhojärvi and the Skilly mascot, Katja Katajamäki and Emmi-Maria Husu at Eija's farewell seminar in spring 2021. Image: Virve Lyyra.
My position as Chair of the Board of Skills Finland has seen me enjoy countless moments of teamwork, planning the future, learning new things, and has brought not only joy to my life but also given me numerous cooperation partners and friends in Finland and abroad. I am immensely grateful for every moment, every partner, and every friend. It has been particularly empowering to meet students and teachers whose lives and career paths have taken a whole new, inspiring direction as a result of participating in skills competitions. These encounters are the salt, pepper, sugar, and syrup of my work. They have also shown that Skills Finland is doing work that matters.
A piece of my heart will always belong to Skills Finland and skills competitions.