Apprenticeship training launched by Patria’s Aviation business area opened the way for Mea Misukka and Matti Kangas to take a vocational qualification in aircraft maintenance. These future professionals consider Patria to be a good learning environment.

Text: Ari Rytsy
Photos: Petri Blomqvist, Harri Hinkka

Mea Misukka from Nokia graduated as a scenic artist in 2014, but the industry’s poor employment prospects and long commutes as far as Helsinki got her thinking about alternative careers. Misukka stumbled across Patria’s aircraft mechanic apprenticeship online. She applied in January 2019 and landed a two-year apprenticeship that will lead to a vocational qualification in aircraft maintenance. The apprenticeship is being organised by Patria in collaboration with the SASKY Municipal Education and Training Consortium. Misukka believes that her previous work experience will be beneficial to her studies. “I was chosen as an adult career changer, even though I haven’t had any previous brushes with aviation. However, an artisan’s work requires manual skill and knowing how to handle tools will definitely be an advantage in aircraft maintenance,” she says.

Employer’s support plays a key role

Misukka has plenty of positive feedback about the apprenticeship, which started in early March. She’s been given plenty of time to familiarise herself with Patria’s various departments and the tasks on offer. Patria personnel have also welcomed both Misukka and the other students, and everyone has been very motivated and inspired to learn new things. In addition to the official study programme, Patria organises additional courses and training as required. The apprentices studying in the Linnavuori unit of Patria’s Aviation business area will receive their final placements in August–September. Misukka herself is most interested in helicopters, but the opportunity to study a new and interesting profession without financial worries is more important to her than specific tasks. “I have a employment contract and Patria will pay me a salary while I study. Without that, I probably wouldn’t have been able to study, as I wouldn’t have managed on a student grant alone. Patria wants to train me to be one of their own, so they’re making sure I get all the required training, competence and expertise,” says Misukka.

From motorbikes to aircraft

Matti Kangas from Jyväskylä is a trained vehicle mechanic who has been working with motorbikes for the past 14 years. His career started in 2005, when he moved to Tampere after completing his national service and took a summer trainee job at a motorbike store. At that time, Kangas was spending both his work and leisure time with bikes, as he was into enduro and motocross. After nine years, Kangas returned to Jyväskylä and took a job at a local motorbike repair shop. He was there for four years before he decided to call it quits. “Motorbikes had been both my work and hobby for a long time, so I started to lose some of my enthusiasm for them. My work was also closely tied to the summer, which is the motorbiking season, while the winters were really quiet,” says Kangas. In early 2019, Kangas started to look at new career options online and happened to notice an announcement about Patria’s aircraft maintenance apprenticeship. The aviation industry sounded like an exciting opportunity, and so Kangas sent off an application.

A good balance of practice and theory

Everything went swimmingly during the selection process and Kangas was able to start his studies at Patria in March, in Halli near Jämsä. Although he only has a few months of study behind him, Kangas thinks his career change was the right solution. “Here I get to learn new things with both more experienced employees and my instructor. I’m gradually moving toward more challenging tasks and feel that my previous technical knowledge has been of some help in my new studies,” says Kangas. The apprentices work four days per week. The fifth day is spent in Mäntä doing theoretical studies and exams. Kangas thinks this is a good balance between practice and theory. As a former motorbike mechanic, he prefers to learn by doing rather than sitting at a desk. And the opportunity that Patria has offered to adult career changers otherwise feels both challenging and safe in the right proportions. “This is a better alternative to traditional forms of study, as an employment contract and salary during my studies give me financial security. Aviation tasks are also interesting, so I hope I get the chance to stay on at Patria after I graduate. Though I might also consider some further training,” says Kangas.