Factory as educator

The number of schools maintained by manufacturing companies in Finland peaked at about 30 in the 1880s. At the time the pulp mill was established, there was no school yet in Jämsänkoski. The workers' literacy and numeracy skills were poor or non-existent. The records required by the factory were done as 'logger's bookkeeping' on pieces of wood which were taken to the clerk for checking. Factory superintendent Atle Genetz and his wife set up a school for workers' children in 1897. Evening classes were organised for more mature youngsters, with the factory engineer and other clerical staff acting as teachers. School books were supplied for the children free.

The assembly hall which housed the factory school, second building from left. It also served as a temporary church in the 1920s.The school was in the assembly hall by Patalankoski rapids. The number of pupils averaged 50. The first teacher was Miss Hella Widell. The factory pattern-maker, Valde Järvi, taught boys handicrafts. The woodwork lessons were held in the Sahala building which contained the workbenches donated by the mill. Showing considerable lack of prejudice, instruction in knitting socks was organised for boys, too, but the results remained meagre. They also did straw work, and handsome straw hats were paraded on the village street.

Of factory people, cashier Blommer and Mrs. Genetz, the doctor's wife, are mentioned as being especially interested in developing the school. Mrs. Genetz often visited the school and sat in on lessons. She also provided presents and sweets for the school Christmas festivities. It is said that on one visit to the school, Mrs. Genetz spotted a small pupil in a very shabby pair of shoes. After the lesson, the lady invited the boy to go along with her to the cobbler. The boy's feet were measured and a new pair of boots made, naturally with the doctor's wife paying the bill. The factory school operated until 1903, when a municipal folk school was established. The company donated the furnishings for the new folk school.

Matara vocational school

Matara school staff and students in 1980. Photo Pauli Nevalainen.The idea behind setting up industrial vocational schools was the desire of companies to obtain skilled and reliable staff, particularly metal workers. The workplace strikes of the 1920s had made employers realise how dependent operation of even a large factory is on mechanics. Indeed, the new schools were originally called Industrial Machine Workshop Schools.

The first vocational training school was established by the Kymi company in 1914 in Kuusankoski. By the end of the 1930s, ten schools were already in existence. The Lotila vocational school, originally called Osakeyhtiö Walkiakosken oppilaskoulu, was established in 1929. The official name of the school from 1943 has been Yhtyneet Paperitehtaat Osakeyhtiön ammattikoulu. The Lotila boarding school took in students from all United mill towns and villages.

Matara boys off on a trip to Lapland in 1962.The Jämsänkoski mill general vocational school was established in 1947. The pulp mill engineer, Veikko Kilpi, was appointed headmaster. Initially the school operated as evening classes, but was closed down due to lack of students as early as 1952. Establishing a vocational school for the river valley factories became topical again in the early 1960s when the mills were extended. In February 1961, a vocational boarding school was set up in the old Kinkama clerical workers' residence, with an intake of 18 students. Its first director was Pertti Haapamäki, M.Sc. The school was a sister institution of the Lotila school, and they shared a board of governors.

The curriculum included courses on paper industry, metalwork and chemistry. The work experience that was part of the course was done at Jämsänkoski and Kaipola mills. At the end of the 1960s, students on paper industry courses were also taught the basics of metalwork. A student workshop was renovated for the purpose in Jämsänkoski paper mill premises.

The old clerical staff residence at Jämsänkoski mill, Kinkama, which housed the vocational school in the early 1960s.At first the vocational school operated in the Kinkama house, with the student dormitory upstairs. The second year of the two-year course was completed at Lotila in Valkeakoski. In 1967, the school's own building was completed near Matara farm on the shore of the lake Kankarisvesi.

A survey carried out in 1968 found that 77 percent of those who completed the company training course were still employed at the company. Matara vocational school operated until 1983. After that, the company vocational training was centralised in Lotila. The building was then used for company courses.

Haukilahden metsäopisto

For continuing vocational training in forest economy, many forest industry companies set up their own institutes individually or jointly. United Paper Mills Ltd Haukilahti forest institute, Haukilahden metsäopisto, in Längelmäki was completed in 1952. It ran courses for foresters, forest district inspectors and forestry supervisors. The Institute's programme also included vocational training for forestry workers and forest husbandry courses for forest owners.

Among the Institute courses were those for logging advisers, who provided instruction on tool maintenance and logging techniques at logging sites. The studies included planning of logging, construction of forest tracks for vehicles, measuring of standing trees and management skills. The teachers were usually the company's own foresters. The rapid mechanisation of forestry that began at the turn of the decade and new working methods demanded updating of staff skills and expertise. The company forestry skills competitions were also held at Haukilahti. The competition elements were forest marking, assessment of timber and orienteering. The Institute was also an important venue for negotiations, meetings and get-togethers for the forestry department staff who worked scattered around the country. Although forestry became intensively mechanised from the 1950s, Haukilahti was the venue for a course in Horsemanship and Driving as late as 1962.

Haukilahti was also used for summer recreation camps, such as those for mothers, organised by the company social services. Company pensioners from the different mill towns also made excursions to Haukilahti.