Bringing Future Talent Together with Businesses Through a Pop-up Vocational College at IsoKristiina

In IsoKristiina, Lappeenranta, Finland, Citycon has been cooperating with a local vocational college since April 2018. The Saimaa Vocational College Sampo has a pop-up space in the centre to inspire the learning process through a new, unconventional learning environment called PopUp Factory. The idea behind the concept is to bring the vocational college students closer to businesses and combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on work assignments.

The pop-up vocational college was situated in a vacated space at the shopping centre which was renovated and decorated by students studying fashion, design and artisanship. During the year, students from Sampo have performed various tasks in the PopUp Factory and throughout IsoKristiina.

The student work included several bigger and smaller projects that allowed for practical experience in different fields. IT and marketing students prepared and carried out a social media marketing campaign for the shopping centre and its tenants, as well as poster ads for tenants and the centre. Social and health care services students arranged gymnastics sessions for seniors and games for kids. The shopping centre management also collaborated with photography students throughout the year in a project in which students photographed the centre and its many events, and produced a picture bank that can be used for information and marketing of IsoKristiina.

Sampo also provides an entrepreneurial training module in which students run their own companies. As a part of this module, a student-run sewing shop performed repairs and shortening and hemming trousers and sleeves for both our tenants and visitors. The PopUp Factory also included a combined showroom and salespoint, enabling student-run co-ops to show, market and sell their products and services. Woodstudio, a co-op founded by Sampo students showed and sold carpentry products, and the artisan cooperative Vuos sold crafts, jewellery and fabrics. Students also held a “pet week” in cooperation with the Finnish Federation for Animal Welfare Associations, during which they marketed their activities at the PopUp Factory premises.

At IsoKristiina the PopUp Factory cooperation has been a big success, and the cooperation will continue past the originally planned end date of February 2019. We are also looking into hosting Sampo students in a different form of cooperation after that.

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