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Lapin ammattiopisto, Rovaniemi, Finland

Lapland Vocational College (LAO) is a vocational school owned by Rovaniemi Municipal Federation of Education and it is situated in the middle of Lapland. LAO has about 7000 students annually and 500 teachers and it offers education in almost every vocational field. Work/education and development of education is based on the challenges of working life, society and individual needs of the students. One of the aims is to promote work-related migration and give students basic vocational and language skills so that they are able to work in international and multicultural labour markets in Finland and in other countries. LAO is the coordinator for the "Cooler World" project. LAO has a lot of experience and know-how about national and international project work and it has run many international projects successfully.

The City of Rovaniemi develops quite rapidly. During the last year (2007) it received 300 new inhabitants even though the population in Lapland decreases. During the last two years there have been many investments in Rovaniemi, in the service and technical sectors. The background for the development mentioned is the unification of the City of Rovaniemi and rural municipality at the beginning of 2006. After that Rovaniemi is the biggest city in Europe, geographically seen.

With Rovaniemi being situated in the scarcely populated Northern periphery, the area lost inhabitants especially during the 90´s after the "big recession" and Finnish memberships in the European Union. The emigration from Lapland has been a challenge for Rovaniemi, too. The economical and social developments of the cities are highly dependent on the development of the neighbouring areas and vice versa.

Even though the economical strength based on the population around Rovaniemi has weakened during the last years, the service sector and especially tourism have increased. Now it seems that the growth is concerning especially the tourism from abroad. The important duty for Lappish education institutes is to confirm that companies will have workers with high level language skills. That means, of course, that The Lapland Vocational College also has to improve the quality of language teaching and learning and improve the cultural awareness all the time.