New alliance with China paves the way for export of Finnish elderly care education

Two memoranda of understanding were signed simultanously in Tampere and Nanjing.

Monday, a big step was taken in Finnish-Chinese education cooperation, as the Sino-Finn Elderly Service Alliance was founded.   

“The Alliance got very warm feedback from all over China. It’s evident that Chinese educational institutions are interested in Finnish education,” said Lancy Jia, who is the founder and CEO of Sumino, a company devoted to exporting Finnish educational know-how to China.   

Sumino is one of the initiators of the alliance, alongside Jiangsu Vocational Institute of Commerce, and with the strong support of the Jiangsu Provincial Education Department.   

The fresh alliance has already gathered more than 70 Chinese educational institutions and more than ten businesses in the field of elderly care in China. The Finnish members are, apart from Sumino, Tampere Vocational College and Turku University of Applied Sciences. 

Finnish education services to the Chinese market 
The alliance is a forum for the exchange of knowledge of and experiences with the latest development of vocational education in both countries. The aim is to foster cooperation projects related to elder care, explained Lancy Jia.   

“Finland has a world-leading education system, and China has the biggest market for implementation. I do believe they need each other. By learning from each other, they can grow together.” 

The high-level founding conference was held in Nanjing, the capital of China’s Jiangsu Province. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Finnish participants joined via video links from Tampere and Turku. Two memoranda of understanding were simultaneously signed in Nanjing, China, and Tampere, Finland.  

Highly qualified and experienced speakers from both countries shared their view on the founding conference’s theme of “Smart Elderly Services”. The keynote speakers, representing educational institutions and enterprises working with elderly care, did not have difficulties finding common ground. Especially the educational combination of theory and practical training from real work-life was a theme that many speakers emphasized.  

In Tampere, Turku and Nanjing, participants pushed a virtual button to mark the beginning of the new cooperation.

“This virtual conference gave us a great opportunity to deepen our knowledge of both Chinese and Finnish efforts to meet the challenges of rapidly ageing populations and how to reform education in the face of this change,” said Outi Kallioinen, who is the director of Tampere region Vocational College, Tredu, and one of the keynote speakers.     

Deputy mayor of Tampere, Jaakko Stenhäll, found that Tredu has great potential for educational export activities. In his speech, he emphasized the highly skilled teachers, facilities and technological know-how. 

First teacher training already underway 
Speakers from both China and Finland expressed their strong will to cooperate and excitement for the many new opportunities that this alliance will bring.   

“In Tredu, we believe that this alliance will give all of us great opportunities for fruitful cooperation,” Outi Kallioinen rejoiced.   

A group photo from the conference. Next year’s conference is planned to be held in Finland – if the situation allows.

Vesa Taatila, the rector of Turku University of Applied Sciences, said that it was “a pleasure to create a new Sino-Finnish alliance to solve a challenge facing both nations.” 

“By bringing together different experiences and skills, we will be able to improve the quality of life of our elderly people in a sustainable way,” he added.   

Already this autumn, the first concrete outcome of the alliance will see the light of day, as the first online training for Chinese teachers in Finland will take place. The next steps will be the development of joint degree programmes and curriculums.