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In the autumn of 2022, workshops were organised at Espoo City Theatre, where jobseekers got to polish their jobseeking skills through art-based methods. The pilot project was created in cooperation between Espoo’s Employment Services, Cultural Services and Espoo City Theatre. Participants were pleased with the experience.

The Valokeila työnhakuun (Spotlight on Job Hunt) workshops were held in September and October 2022 on the premises of Espoo City Theatre. In the workshops, highly educated immigrant women received training for jobseeking through art-based methods.

“There are many highly educated immigrant women among jobseekers in Espoo. We wanted to try to strengthen their jobseeking skills and sense of inclusion in a new way,” says Hilla-Maaria Sipilä, Manager of Employment Services at the City of Espoo.

The aim of the pilot was to experiment with art-based methods under Employment Espoo, the local government pilot on employment in Espoo. Another goal was to develop employment services through multidisciplinary cooperation.

“The key idea of the CultureEspoo 2030 programme is that art and culture are an integral part of city services. Art and culture can play an important role in the promotion of inclusion and the development of services,” says Espoo’s Cultural Director Susanna Tommila.

Body awareness and emotions as tools

The workshops were facilitated by Hanna Häyhä, who works with audience outreach projects at Espoo Theatre. One workshop consisted of four meetings, and two workshops were organised as one-off events. Lauri Mattila and Juhani Haukka, creators of an art concept called ‘Kokeellinen TE-toimisto’ (Experimental Employment Office), hosted one of the workshops. A total of 21 people participated in the workshops, which were held in English.

Häyhä says that art-based methods proved to be an excellent way of supporting the jobseeking process. For example, participants got a chance to practise job interview situations.

“Our ideas on the importance of body awareness and emotions in jobseeking processes seemed to help people, and participants also enjoyed engaging with peers. The feedback was positive, and one of the participants already informed us that they found work thanks to the skills gained at the workshop,” says a delighted Häyhä.

Espoo’s Competence Centre for Highly Educated Immigrants helped in the planning of the workshops. Peer experts chose the topics of the workshops to meet the wishes and needs of the target group.

“This is a good example of how the City of Espoo develops services to meet the needs of local residents,” Sipilä says.

Espoo’s Employment Services and Cultural Services are part of the Sector for Economic Development, Sports and Culture. Cross-administrative development of services and the introduction of art into services are examples of the work done in the sector.