These are some of the questions that the entrepreneurship and team leader training Proakatemia, which has been operating in TAMK for nearly 20 years, tries to answer. Proakatemia uses exceptional training methods: offices instead of classrooms, a trainer’s role instead of a teacher’s role, and client projects instead of exams.
This model has been proven to work, as the students graduate from the programme on time, few discontinue their studies, more than a third continue as entrepreneurs straight after graduation, and the rest find quality jobs. Student satisfaction is also high.
This innovation is attracting a lot of attention around the world. Proakatemia has weekly visits from international teachers, students and directors of various educational institutions who come to learn more about the concept. The English-language From Teacher to Trainer training courses have attracted attention, and Oman for example, plans to launch a training programme based on team entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship and team leader training Proakatemia
- The students set up a company together right at the start of their studies.
- The team and individuals are trained by the same trainer throughout the studies.
- Proakatemia’s extensive and enriching community includes the Proakatemia alumni, students and trainers.
The teachers from Oman said they had been given a new beginning to their careers as teachers and an opportunity to do their work in a meaningful way. “
Two teachers from Oman spent two weeks at TAMK learning about the Proakatemia concept and training principles. During the From Teacher to Trainer training, the participants learnt about changing a university teacher’s role and goals into those of a trainer, about the principles of team learning and tools for learning, as well as the basics of Proakatemia’s operating model.
The teachers actively took part in Proakatemia’s everyday activities and various learning situations, and interviewed the trainers and their students. In addition, they were introduced to the team learning methods used in the upper stage of Finnish comprehensive school, and made visits to the companies founded by Proakatemia graduates and a fire station.
A low-hierarchy model
– At the school and the fire station, we witnessed how we work in teams and how low the hierarchy that our society is based on is. Team learning is already practised at the lower stage of comprehensive school, and in best cases the teachers and directors are trainers. Therefore, a low-hierarchy model such as the one used in Proakatemia works here, says Timo Nevalainen, the trainer for the Omani teachers.
– In other parts of the world, this might pose a major challenge that must be taken into account when training new teachers and developing a team entrepreneurship learning model that suits their society, Nevalainen continues.
Proakatemia uses exceptional training methods: Offices instead of classrooms, a trainer’s role instead of a teacher’s role, and client projects instead of exams.”
A new beginning for a teacher
The teachers from Oman were excited about the training and said they had been given a new beginning to their careers as teachers and an opportunity to do their work in a meaningful way.
– It is not only about what the teacher knows or is able to do. The focus is shifted to what the students can do after leaving university. The teachers now have a mission and faith in their ability to change things if they want, Nevalainen sums up.
The Omani teachers think that the students at Proakatemia are notably more mature compared to their own students, and similar feedback has been provided by other international guests at Proakatemia. It seems like there is huge demand for new operating models out there.
– Would it not be a key way to prevent social exclusion and radicalism to allow a learner to become the owner of their own learning and skills? And if you create networks and learn about sales during your studies, it will help you move forward in society, working life and business in a whole new way, says Nevalainen.
TEXT: TIINA KOSKIRANTA | PHOTOS: JOEL FORSMAN, ANNI KILPELÄ