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Taitaja award for entrepreneurship looks good in your CV

Taitaja award 2022 for entrepreneurship went to TaitajaPLUS skills category of restaurant and catering services. Competing for the award raised positive competitive spirit and inspired participants to pull out all stops when planning the competition tasks.


At Taitaja 2022 Pori competition, the Taitaja award for entrepreneurship went to TaitajaPLUS skills category of restaurant and catering services. The entrepreneurship theme was highly visible in the competition tasks in this category. Among other things, the competitors got to design a product label with a logo and work on Instagram postings, for which they interviewed their skills category’s business partners.

While the social media is an important marketing channel for catering sector companies, incorporating its use in Taitaja competition tasks is still something new. "In any case, we are the first skills category in our group to use social media," says Anne Kerstinen, official responsible for this skills category.

According to Kerstinen and Sanna Valtonen from Sataedu Educational Federation, the other official responsible for this skills category, some adults were wondering how young special needs students would manage a task in which computers and social media are used. “These concerns proved completely unfounded. They managed brilliantly and produced really great publications on Insta, whereas one of the jury members revealed that they had never used this application before. In other words, the person who needed to learn to use Instagram was a judge rather than a competitor”, Kerstinen says.

She has noticed that many catering sector companies lack social media expertise. “These young graduates can bring it to the workplaces with them.”

Officials responsible for the skills category must apply for the award

The skills category must enter itself in the competition for the award. In practice, the official responsible for the category fills in an online form, describing how the principles of entrepreneurship are followed in the competition. Before the week of the finals, a pre-selection jury goes through the applications and selects three skills categories for the final. During the week in which Taitaja finals are held, the actual award jury interviews the actors in the skills categories and makes a final decision on the winner.

The competition tasks for TaitajaPLUS skills category of restaurant and catering services were already planned to a great extent when registrations for the Taitaja award competition opened. However, there was a consensus in the steering group that the skills category would go for the Taitaja award for entrepreneurship. "At the first steering group meeting, we had already decided that we wanted to promote our skills category, break boundaries and do something new. We wanted to give more visibility to this skills category intended for special needs students and raise awareness among employers of the positive aspects associated with them”, Anne Kerstinen recalls. “Restaurant workers are currently few and far between. This recognition brings great visibility for the competence of special needs students”, says Sanna Valtonen.

Cooperation with companies and other actions relevant to entrepreneurship insinuated themselves into the competition tasks as the officials responsible for the skills category are comfortable with the values associated with entrepreneurship. "I have personally worked in this field as a restaurant manager, and that is one reason why cooperation between the business world and educational institutions comes very naturally to me", says Sanna Valtonen.

This meant that the officials did not need to go out of their way to come up with an entrepreneurial perspective for the competition tasks. However, they took their game up a notch when the application form opened up. “Going for the award raised a positive competitive spirit in us: when we decided to compete for the award, we meant business. Consequently, we made some adjustments to the tasks from the perspective of entrepreneurship”, Anne Kerstinen recalls.

Sanna Valtonen also regards the award as a positive challenge. “You have to be inventive to find ways of integrating all elements into a seamless whole and, for example, ensuring that tablets will work in the competition environment”, she says. “However, the steering group was confident that practical matters would work out and made efforts to reach the goal.”

Valtonen also recalls being curious about how other skills categories had fulfilled the criteria for the Taitaja award. "While we did not compete with grim determination, we followed other people's activities with interest," she describes.

Taitaja award is a recognition of the steering group’s competence

The actors in the TaitajaPLUS skills category of restaurant and catering services did a lot of work along the way to renew the competition tasks. In addition to developing their skills category, the officials secured Staffpoint as the main partner of the entire Taitaja event. Despite this, they were very surprised by the recognition. "Dozens of skills categories were competing for the award, and more experienced people than us were involved in many of them", says Anne Kerstinen. "On the other hand, we met all the award criteria without a shadow of a doubt", says Sanna Valtonen.
Above all, the Taitaja award is a recognition for the competence of the officials responsible for the skills category and the category's steering group. “We did not hesitate to add the Taitaja award to our CVs. One steering group member even said that they had taken a picture of the certificate and inserted it in their CV”, Kerstinen says.

Making the most of the Taitaja experience

The Taitaja award for entrepreneurship will be up for grabs again next year, which is why now is a good time to consider how entrepreneurship could be incorporated in the competition tasks for your skills category.

Anne Kerstinen hopes that TaitajaPLUS categories will also go for the award. “Winning is a great personal experience of success. At the same time, it is a way of showing to the competitors that we have really gone for broke in our efforts to plan their competition tasks”, she explains.

Sanna Valtonen felt that participating did not require much effort. “If you have decided to participate in Taitaja, you should make the most of it”, she says, and gives a valuable piece of advice to those who wish to compete for the award. “You should play with ideas with an open mind and consider even the craziest suggestions, rather than taking the easiest way out.”

“Someone always wins the award, so of course it is worth taking part”, Kerstinen exhorts.

The award draws skills categories’ attention to entrepreneurship

The Taitaja award for entrepreneurship was handed out for the first time in its current form at the Taitaja2022 event in Pori. Skills Finland presented the award together with Suomen Yrittäjät (the Federation of Finnish Enterprises). In the future, Skills Finland together with a business partner will present this award each year to a skills category that has shown exceptional attention to the principles of entrepreneurship.
However, entrepreneurship is not a completely new theme at Taitaja. The Federation of Finnish Enterprises has handed out its own entrepreneurship award each year at the Taitaja event. Taitaja served as the stage for presenting the award, which was not relevant to the skills categories or competitors at the event. Under the rules of the Taitaja competition, all skills categories have additionally had to take the perspective of entrepreneurship into account. However, attention paid to this theme has varied greatly between the categories: some have excelled in it, while others have completely ignored it.

Motivated by the renewed award and more detailed award criteria, the aim is to encourage more skills categories to invest in the entrepreneurship perspective.

Awards also presented for occupational safety and sustainable development
In addition to entrepreneurship, sustainable development and occupational safety are themes that must be visible annually in all skills categories of Taitaja competitions. In addition to the Taitaja award for entrepreneurship, two other themed awards are also part of the Taitaja event.

The Taitaja award for occupational safety handed out together with LähiTapiola went to beauty care, while the award for sustainable development presented in partnership with Touchpoint was given to the category of cabinet making.