Improving integ­ra­tion through work­place Finnish

Awarded with the Luotsi award on Joensuu Day: Napakka Osk

Pohjois-Karjalan Napakka Osk is a cooper­at­ive enter­prise estab­lished in 2004, also act­ing as a voucher-based ser­vice pro­vider for Siun Sote. Napakka offers a vari­ety of domestic ser­vices in the Joensuu area, ran­ging from clean­ing to small main­ten­ance work and yard­work. Napakka also offers billing ser­vices for experts work­ing in dif­fer­ent fields.

”I have only been speak­ing Finnish with them,” says Kirsi Härkönen, who works as a mentor for clean­ing work at Napakka Osk.

But that’s impossible, I find myself think­ing. How could freshly arrived Ukrainians already under­stand Finnish?

”Of course, they occa­sion­ally have Google Translate open on their phone, which imme­di­ately repeats what I said to them in Ukrainian. That has been a sig­ni­fic­ant help,” Härkönen con­tin­ues.

Härkönen thinks that the more she encour­ages her work­ers on house clean­ing jobs to repeat clean­ing terms in Finnish and to con­verse with the cus­tomer, even with just a few ques­tions, the sooner they will be able to work inde­pend­ently. This will also help them in other aspects of integ­ra­tion. Härkönen has the right idea.

Napakka worker Alina Yarysh has just had her tem­por­ary 6‑month work con­tract upgraded to an indef­in­ite one, and she is very happy that she is now able to bet­ter provide for her­self and her three young chil­dren.

”I star­ted at Napakka doing spring clean­ing jobs in May. We did those as team­work, but now I already have about ten loc­a­tions that I visit on my own. We also have relo­ca­tion clean­ings and spe­cial clean­ing jobs that we do with a big­ger clean­ing team. At clear­ance jobs, we may also have mem­bers from Napakka’s yard­work and small main­ten­ance teams work­ing with us,” says Yarysh.

The empty apart­ment is filled with laughter as Kirsi, Alina and Nataliia make it clean as a whistle. Both Alina and Nataliia have pre­vi­ously worked in cus­tomer ser­vice and sales jobs in their home coun­try.

”I under­stand very well that you just can’t get that kind of work without know­ing the lan­guage. Cleaning work has been fun, and in many ways, it’s a good way to get close to the Finnish life­style and people,” says Nataliia.

Cleaning work is also demand­ing. One has to under­stand the right tech­niques, know the right clean­ing agents even for del­ic­ate sur­faces, and be able to inter­act with the cus­tom­ers. It’s much more demand­ing tech­nic­ally than people might think.

”Do you have a sled (pulkka) for the chil­dren yet?” Kirsi asks Alina at the end.

”What is ”pylkkä”?”

For some reason, Google doesn’t recog­nize the word either. But Google Image Search solves the mys­tery.

”Oh, I know this. I don’t have one, I’m sure the chil­dren would love it,” Alina answers.

”I’ll bring you one tomor­row, we don’t need it any­more,” says Kirsi, and receives a hug from Alina. ”You’re always help­ing us, thank you, Kirsi!”

The Joensuu Day Luotsi awards were awar­ded to employ­ers who have boldly employed inter­na­tional tal­ents. Awards were also given to:

Text: Riitta Nyberg
Photos: Ari Tauslahti
Translation: Teemu Reilin