Strategy guides the development of staff competence
VAMK’s renewed strategy highlights five areas for development, also encompassing the competence development needs of the institution. Development needs are analysed in more detail in VAMK’s annual document on HR planning and training aims. This comprehensive and informative document forms a solid basis for staff development as a whole. At the individual level, competence development needs are identified during the annual development discussions between staff members and supervisors, and individual development plans are drawn up accordingly. The interviews confirmed that this procedure is widely applied and highly appreciated.
VAMK’s strategic focus areas are also mirrored in opportunities provided for staff development. With RDI activities and participation in continuous learning activities having been included in VAMK’s teaching staff portfolios, the enhancement of staff’s research competences and working life skills is fostered.
Staff competence development is also enabled through working life periods which constitute a valuable opportunity for learning and upskilling. Furthermore, these periods play an important role in achieving the strategic goal to work closely with regional working life and provide input for up-to-date teaching. In the interviews, the auditors learned that the opportunity to go on a working life periods has so far not been used by many colleagues, thus the auditors encourage staff to grasp this unique opportunity (see also chapter 4).
While VAMK documentation related to staff development is comprehensive and well set, the key document for staff recruitment is quite scarce in content and detail. Therefore, with a view to the coming updates of the principles and instructions for staff recruitment, academic staff recruitment processes, competence requirements and actors involved in the respective procedures should be transparently laid out in this document.
Well-being of staff is a strategic priority
Improving staff well-being at work is one of the five strategic areas for development at VAMK. Well-being of the staff is followed with an annual staff survey called Työyhteisövire. The results of the latest staff survey have been discussed in the management team and development measures have been decided, resulting in a large-scale plan of action. However, a more detailed implementation plan with responsible actors and prioritised schedules would further support the implementation of the chosen measures.
Following the strategy, engagement in RDI has become part of the task portfolio of VAMK’s teaching staff. Even though new personnel have been recruited for continuous learning and RDI activities, there is a risk that teachers’ work duties may become too fragmented and workload for the individual staff members may become too heavy; therefore, the audit team encourages VAMK to remain vigilant and to evaluate and monitor staff well-being regularly.
During the audit interviews, the management of ageing workforce was discussed. This topic is an important management issue as many of VAMK’s staff members are close to retirement age. The audit team values VAMK’s approach to this issue and encourages the Management Team to pay attention to the special needs of ageing and experienced personnel, and initiate flexibility in working hours and the revision of job descriptions. Furthermore, VAMK should care for knowledge management and consider how to ensure the transfer of know-how and tacit knowledge from more experienced persons to less-experienced staff members.
VAMK has published a statutory personnel policy plan of equality and non-discrimination on its website. The realisation of this plan is followed up by an equality and non-discrimination questionnaire and Työyhteisövire staff survey. In addition, there is an anonymous Feedy feedback system in place that enables reporting of unfair treatment. The interviews confirmed that Feedy is well-known within the institutional community.