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Veijo Hintsanen: Thirty years in skills family

Veijo Hintsanen was nominated as Honorary President of Skills Finland in May 2018. He has been an active member in skills family for thirty years at both national and international level.

Veijo Hintsanen was nominated as Honorary President of Skills Finland in May 2018. He has been an active member in skills family for thirty years at both national and international level. We interviewed Veijo about his career in Skills Finland and in WorldSkills. It started when he was working in the National Board of Vocational Education, went on through his years as the President Director of Häme University of Applied Sciences and continues activities even after his retirement.

− The real big start was in 1988, when my boss in the National Board of Vocational Education, General Director Jorma Pöyhönen, came to my room and said: “You are going to be our Technical Delegate in the IVTO”, an international organisation, nowadays known as WorldSkills International. Some activities at national level I had already before that, says Hintsanen.

During the first years there was no national skills organisation, no time allocated nor a proper budget.

− The network of friends among the education providers and the industry made the start somehow possible at national level as well as globally. The beginning was difficult also for the IVTO: No proper information system about skills in international competitions, no shared experience about special training nor funding systems for training and participating in the IVTO competitions, Hintsanen recalls.

One major step to the next level was establishing the Skills Finland organisation in 1993. It solved many problems, and little by little the standard of national skills competitions was raised, as well as the training system for international competitions.

−The main principle and goal in participating in IVTC/WSC was to systematically widen our experience to new skill categories. In WorldSkills Montreal 1999 we had already about 30 competitors. Then we noticed to be ready for hosting the WSC and succeeded even to get positive decision in WorldSkills General Assembly Meeting in Lisbon the same year, Hintsanen explains.

WorldSkills Helsinki 2005 was the final boost in getting to high level both in national and international operations. From 2004 to 2011 Finland had on average the biggest team in WS Competitions. At the same time the quality of Finnish national skills competitions was raised to a professional level.

Many roles

For Veijo Hintsanen, out of his many roles in skills family, the most interesting and the most important has been the membership in the WS Board of Directors as the Vice Chairman of the Technical Committee from 2003 to 2011.

− Many important steps in making the WorldSkills International a professional organisation were taken during that period, he estimates.

Hintsanen sees that the training and the competitions are important tools in raising the standard of skills both at national and international level. Skills activities are combined with international cooperation, and the networks formed by skills organisations are most important in sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices inside the global skills family. Close connection between competition activities (including training) and VET is one of the tools in developing national education systems.

Vision 2025

After working so closely with the preparations for the WorldSkills Vision 2025, Veijo Hintsanen affirms that it is also his vision for the future of skills and skills competitions.

− It brings together six important focus areas. In practice it means more connections between focus areas and more possibilities for members to benefit from WorldSkills activities. We all should see us as members of the big WorldSkills family. We should be ready to help each other by sharing our experiences, information and best practices. This principle is valid nationally and internationally, Hintsanen says.

Dear memories and dear friends

Veijo Hintsanen has a lot of cherished memories over the years in skills family.

− One of the first meetings with WS CEO David Hoey should be raised here. He was helping us at the General Assembly in Hong Kong in finalising our WorldSkills Helsinki 2005 presentations from “Finglish” to English. Very late in the evening we got it ready and he could finally start rebooting his computer, so that he would be able to finish his own presentations that night. It was really a nice start for an everlasting friendship.

Hintsanen laughs that “not possible, next item” is one of the nice memories in preparing WorldSkills Helsinki 2005. It was a sentence he repeated many times when the technical committee members were trying to suggest new amendments to the organiser whose hands were tied; all the sponsor deals were already sealed, and no changes could be made whatsoever.

− It has been a privilege to have so many roles in both international and national skills organisations. New friends, useful networks and interesting challenges have given me a lot. Getting to know different cultures has been eye-opening and has given new perspectives on thinking. The work is still going on with the WorldSkills Vision 2025 and the Action Plan, which will implement the strategy and turn it into action, Veijo Hintsanen sums up the years working for the skills family.