FUURT’s Union Coordinator Miia Ijäs-Idrobo served as a mentor for a workshop theme on work-life balance and mobility.

Boost your mobility

Mobility has a triple meaning of geographical (international) mobility, intersectoral mobility between academia and industry, and interdisciplinary mobility between different research fields. Dare to Learn -event was discussing mobility.

The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (FUURT) participated in this year’s Dare to Learn -event on September 18–19. The event was held for the second time in Cable Factory, Helsinki, attracting participants also internationally. Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, is one of the key partners of the event.

Together with Akava, the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers organised the workshop Boost your mobility on the second day of the event. The workshop focused on mobility in connection to modern forms of work and career development. The session started with an introduction by Miika Sahamies (Akava) and Miia Ijäs-Idrobo (FUURT).

Sahamies told the audience about an Akava survey (2018) on higher education graduates and students aged 18–35 about their views on work. The survey had c. 2000 participants, and the respondents’ views were compared to a control group aged 35–65 of higher education graduates. Both the young respondents and the control group valued stable income and full-time job. Both groups also worried about one’s ability to keep up with changes in work life. The younger respondents differed, however, from the control group in respect to flexibility over work and salary, and in their readiness to move abroad for work: some 44 per cent of the younger respondents said they could move abroad for work.

Typical reasons to move abroad for work are e.g. better labour market value after mobility period(s), possibility to improve one’s skills and competences in new environments, but also better career possibilities abroad to those available in Finland. From the perspective of research careers and work, Miia Ijäs-Idrobo added that mobility has a triple meaning of geographical (international) mobility, intersectoral mobility between academia and industry, and interdisciplinary mobility between different research fields.

As new environments feed new perspectives, both the mobile individual and work place(s) benefit from mobility. Still practical mobility is mainly on individual’s responsibility. Therefore, different kind of support systems for mobile careers are needed.

After the introduction the workshop participants engaged in group discussions with FUURT mentors Elina Katainen, Riku Matilainen and Miia Ijäs-Idrobo. The discussions focused on themes such as skills and competences required to go mobile, mobility’s impact on career development, and work-life balance issues related to mobility.

The focus was mainly on international mobility and the participants approached different issues from various perspectives, depending on their personal backgrounds. Some were students while others were already in working life, some already had experiences of international mobility while others were thinking of their options for future mobility.

Many agreed that especially international mobility has a positive boost on one’s career development. Experiences and views on intersectoral and interdisciplinary mobility varied more. Intersectoral mobility was seen to be risky and usually one-way: from academia to industry with no return. Interdisciplinary mobility, on the other hand, might end up in a situation where one is not in the mainstream, but in the margins of several fields.

Skills and competences connected to mobility included language skills but also flexibility and certain boldness. Depending on their personal situation, participants differed in how able they were to go mobile in short term. Common understanding was that especially when one has family and children, mobility is connected to many practical challenges that need more managing. Generally the readiness to go mobile and change one’s surroundings or career lowered as participants started to have family.

Many agreed that mobility creates both challenges and opportunities for one’s work-life balance. Thus support systems for (international) mobility are important: not only in the new environment, but also managing things at home

FUURT ’s Senior Adviser Elina Katainen and the groups focused on skills and qualities that are needed for mobility, and what kind of hopes the participants had for their new or potential working environments.

Text Miia Ijäs-Idrobo
Photos Milla Talassalo

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