The research project seeks solutions to how rural SMEs can serve as learning environments for vocational education and training. The study focuses on how learning environments support career paths and skills development for young people, and how learning environments can contribute to supporting regional labor markets and innovativeness in SMEs. This implies that these vocational learning environments are co-created by young people living in rural areas, rural SMEs and education providers.
One particular research question is: what kind of models should the learning within firms be taken forward to serve the wishes and needs of young people in rural areas.
The project consists of three phases:
1) Literature analysis and benchmarking,
2) Field research and data collection,
3) Analysis of data and publication of results as well as making policy recommendations. The research material is collected by using group interviews, which are conducted in two rounds in three regions (South Ostrobothnia, North Ostrobothnia and North Karelia). The informant groups are made up of students from vocational schools, representatives of SMEs and representatives of educational institutions.
The beneficiaries of the research project are SMEs operating in the rural areas and young people living in rural areas, but also vocational education institutions, decision-makers in rural areas and decision makers concerning vocational education and training reform.