When scholarship and professional life come together: HY+ drives Finnish experts to the top with research-based knowledge

The University’s continuing education business aims to assume a significant role in continuous learning. CEO Kimmo Kärpijoki believes that investing in skills is the only way for organisations to succeed in competition.

How can you best take care of your brain, succeed in telecommuting as a supervisor or train staff with the most effective methods? The University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+ offers solutions to such problems familiar to expert organisations.

HY+’s product range is based on the University’s multidisciplinary research. Available are both commissioned training for public administration or businesses, and online and in-person training open to all.

“The University of Helsinki is definitely Finland’s number one institution in understanding people,” says Kimmo Kärpijoki, CEO of HY+.

Continuing education is not designed for offering people academic lectures. Instead, activities are heavily geared towards the practical. For instance, a course on artificial intelligence is headed by representatives of business life alongside top-level researchers.

“Training must have relevance for employment,” Kärpijoki emphasises.

Profit of the social enterprise allocated back to the University’s research and development

Although established in 2016, the business has a long history, as its predecessor Palmenia launched operations more than 40 years ago. Today, the focus in continuing education is on leadership, management, coaching, learning, communication and wellbeing.

HY+ has trained nursing home staff in pharmacological therapy, coached the leadership of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council and provided consultation to Finavia on the development of online courses (links in Finnish only). In 2021, turnover was €4.3 million, and more than 10,000 people attended training organised by HY+. The company also has been awarded the Finnish Social Enterprise Mark.

“That means that HY+’s profit goes to research and development at the University of Helsinki.”

The company’s plans are ambitious, with the aim of making the expertise of the University’s 11 faculties increasingly accessible to learners and to offer new services to the private sector, which covers roughly 30% of the turnover. Following the pandemic, demand has also come from outside the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

“We want to see ourselves as a national operator.”

City of Helsinki values a strong connection to the academic community

One of the long-term customers of HY+ is the City of Helsinki, which purchases continuing education for teaching and education staff, among other things. Short courses in neuropsychology attended by hundreds of teachers and early childhood educators constitute a substantial offering.

“This training is related to encountering learners in need of support,” says Head of Development Services Marjo Kyllönen from the city’s Education division.

From the perspective of the city, the most important thing is that training is motivating, inspiring and based on research. In fact, skilled trainers, many of whom are closely connected to the University, are an asset to HY+.

“We can be confident that they have up-to-date knowledge based on research,” says Mervi Korhonen, Head of Pedagogical Services at the city’s Development Services.

With teaching professionals as the target audience, the pedagogical methods used must also meet a high standard. To identify the best methods, HY+ collaborates with the Faculty of Educational Sciences, which has succeeded in international university rankings.

An export engine helps other Finns go global

Quality education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. In developing countries, as many as 57 million children are excluded from the school system. HY+ is tackling this global problem through education export, which constitutes a quarter of its turnover.

In 2021 the company carried out three large international projects. Among other things, it serves as a consultant in the reform of the education system in Sri Lanka, which is being implemented by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“We are keeping an eye on the progress of the reform while training teachers and principals,” Kärpijoki says.

In recent years, HY+ has designed a diploma programme in teacher training for the United Arab Emirates, familiarised Polish higher education leadership with Finnish universities and trained South Korean teachers. As one of the export engines of Education Finland, it also helps Finnish higher education institutions and businesses to expand outside Finland.

Kärpijoki believes that ‘agents of change’ trained by the business can bring about permanent change in their home countries. In the future, the aim is to expand the export of education outside the educational sciences.

“We have a great deal of expertise related to, for example, sustainable development at the University of Helsinki, which we could be marketing all over the world.”

Skills should be maintained to keep businesses competitive

HY+ is pursuing a significant role in the Finnish field of continuous learning. The business has organised training in academic skills for immigrants (AKVA training) (in Finnish only) funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and carried out training for regional Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment where applicants can supplement their skills, for example, by advancing their qualification in chemistry to one in biochemistry.

Kärpijoki thinks that the trend of lifelong learning will only intensify further.

“It will provide us with plenty to do as well as business opportunities.”

But why should staff skills be updated? Kärpijoki points out that development opportunities bind people to their workplace. You can also ask whether businesses can even afford not to train their employees.

“I see the development of skills as the only option of expert organisations for making it in the competition.”

More information

HY+ website

Nearly 170 training offerings per year
  • The continuing education unit of the University of Helsinki was incorporated in 2016 into HY+. The business is owned by the University of Helsinki Funds.

  • In 2021 HY+ organised 168 training offerings.

  • Its operations are founded on commissioned training tailored to organisations, training packages targeted at individuals, continuing education funded by the public administration and education export.

  • The trainers include researchers and teachers of the University of Helsinki and business representatives. HY+ collaborates closely also with other higher education institutions.

  • For more information, visit the HY+ website and read customer testimonials (in Finnish only).