Oodi construction site raised several creative sector professionals

YIT Corporation News March 1, 2019 at 07:00 a.m. 

Essi Tuomenoja YIT
Essi Tuomenoja YIT

For Essi Tuomenoja, who arrived at the construction site of the Helsinki Central Library Oodi as a trainee and left as a supervisor, the construction sector is the most creative of all sectors.

Investing in young talent in the construction sector and active cooperation with educational institutions has been a strategic choice of YIT’s for years.

Located at the heart of Helsinki on Kansalaistori square, the Helsinki Central Library Oodi, which opened its doors to the public last December, has already proven to be a success: the citizens’ new, award-winning living room has received praise from all quarters.

For its builders, Oodi was also a one-of-a-kind project. The library received the challenging construction requirement category AA, because the architects had designed many original, almost unique solutions for the building.

Almost right from the start, the site adopted the Big Room operating model, which brought all of the professionals working on the project around the same table each week to find solutions to different technical construction problems.  The work also involved many young future construction professionals for whom the Oodi site offered a veritable master class in construction work.

It is estimated that in the future, approximately 10,000 people will visit Oodi on a daily basis – or 2.5 million per year.

“Oodi is a wonderful inheritance to leave for future generations. It’s been great to see how people have embraced the building,” says YIT supervisor Essi Tuomenoja, 25, who arrived at the Oodi site in May 2017 as a supervisor trainee and left it in February 2019 as a supervisor with solid experience of the demanding work of an area manager.

YIT offers traineeships and summer jobs to approximately 1,000 young people each year

Investing in young talent in the construction sector and active cooperation with educational institutions has been a strategic choice of YIT’s for many years. In the construction industry studies, experience gathered from traineeships is extremely valuable, as the theory learned in studies can be applied in practice. Each year, YIT offers a traineeship or summer job to approximately 1,000 young people. This is a significant number from the aspect of the future of the construction sector as well as the society.

The YIT Studies programme, an advanced study module in the field of construction, is currently offered at seven universities of applied sciences and one university in Finland. YIT has also launched the YIT Studies for Business Students programme in cooperation with Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Finland for business students in the fields of finance and IT.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the trainee programme is our main channel for recruiting future professionals. Each year, there are several trainees working at almost all of our sites in Finland,” explains HR specialist Sanna-Mari Kauko, who is in charge of traineeships at YIT.

On average, the employees hired through the trainee programme are more committed than people hired from the outside. In other words, investing in training is a good way to bring up our own workers, but equally, it is a good way to develop the sector and future-proof it.

“We feel that this is our downright obligation. We really value young people and their new skill sets,” says Sanna-Mari Kauko, echoed by Tero Seppänen who worked as the Oodi Site Manager.

Goal is to learn team work and the right attitude

During the construction of Oodi, there were in total eight trainees working on the site: five supervisor trainees and three so-called ‘blue collar trainees’. The number is fairly typical for an YIT business premises project.

Because Oodi was such a special project for its architecture, location and purpose of use, some of the trainees specifically wanted to do their traineeship at the Oodi site. Some had already worked at YIT in previous years, others had heard of the chance to do a traineeship, for instance, at YIT’s meetings held at educational institutions.

“The first goal set for all trainees was to learn team work and the right attitude. On site, you must have the guts to ask questions – otherwise, you won’t learn. On the other hand, more experienced employees need to be easily approachable; there are no stupid questions, and potential mistakes are discussed and learned from,” explains Seppänen.

Based on the trainee feedback gathered by YIT, this is precisely what the trainees expect and appreciate.

“Every year, the feedback shows that the trainees appreciate that they are handed responsibility but that they are not left to their own devices,” says Kauko. “Clearly, we have also been successful at this. Of the trainees, 95% would prefer to keep working for YIT, and 97% would recommend YIT as an employer to their friends.”

Dreams of becoming supervisor of similar large site

Essi Tuomenoja’s career at YIT started already before Oodi at the Shopping Centre Dixi site in Tikkurila in 2016, where she arrived as a supervisor trainee. Essi is full of praise for her tutor who took her “everywhere” and handed her gradually more and more responsibility.

“I also really enjoyed YIT’s internal trainee meetings where I got to meet other young people and got a much better idea of YIT as a whole than I would have had I only stayed at my own site.”

After middle school, Tuomenoja started her studies in construction at a vocational school where she studied for a basic degree in construction parallel with her secondary-school graduation exam. After vocational school, she continued with her Master Builder studies at a university of applied sciences.

“I am really happy with my career path. A particular highlight is that I got a summer job as a ‘blue collar trainee’ during my time at the vocational school. That work experience has been a massive help in my job as a supervisor.”

For Essi Tuomenoja, the construction sector is a calling. She decided on it already during primary school.

“When young people say that they want to work in a creative sector, I always think that this is the most creative sector of them all. For example, at Oodi we got to think how to implement the architects’ vision, such as curving walls and large curving glass windows. I love solving puzzles,” she continues.

Essi Tuomenoja has a dream. One day, she would like to work as a site manager of a large site.

“I doubt there will ever be another Oodi,” she chuckles. This is true, but luckily, YIT has many interesting projects that are ongoing or in the pipeline, such as Tripla and Trigoni in Pasila, Helsinki, Garden Helsinki in Töölö and Finland’s biggest wooden school in Imatra...

Tuomenoja would encourage any young person contemplating the construction sector as a career to try their hand at working on a site.

“If you’re afraid of working outdoors, I can guarantee you that weather is simply a question of the proper attire. You get used to waking up early – you might even start enjoying it! However, what’s most rewarding in this line of work is the permanent visible end product of your craft.”

Successful training requires cooperation and open dialogue

Just like Tuomenoja, Seppänen describes site training as a “development arc”. The tasks and responsibilities must grow at the same rate as the professional skills develop. Young people must be trusted but nor overburdened.

“If you spend the whole summer sweeping floors, you probably won’t learn anything about the work. Successful and safe training is a matter of cooperation and functional, open dialogue.”

Site Manager Seppänen is full of praise for Essi Tuomenoja.

“Essi’s rise from a trainee to a freshly made supervisor and finally the area manager in charge of the interior construction of Oodi’s basement was rapid, but she did really well in all of her tasks,” says Seppänen.

“I feel that I have grown much more as a person as well as professionally than you would expect in the 1.5 years I spent at the Oodi site,” says Tuomenoja.

Further reading:
Working at YIT

For further information, please contact:
Johanna Savolainen, Communications Manager, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 (0)44 305 4594, johanna.savolainen@yit.fi

YIT is the largest Finnish and significant North European construction company. We develop and build apartments and living services, business premises and entire areas. We are also specialised in demanding infrastructure construction and paving. Together with our customers, our nearly 10,000 professionals are creating more functional, more attractive and more sustainable cities and environments. We work in 11 countries: Finland, Russia, Scandinavia, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. The new YIT was born when over 100-year-old YIT Corporation and Lemminkäinen Corporation merged on February 1, 2018. Our pro forma revenue for 2018 was approximately EUR 3.8 billion. YIT Corporation's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy. www.yitgroup.com