Alex Mutampa is graduating to his dream profession from Stadin AO

Alex Mutampa, 41, has cause for celebration this spring as he is graduating from Stadin AO, Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute as a builder. Vocational Qualification in Construction provides comprehensive skills for working life and further education.
Since Alex has always been interested in hands-on activities, construction was a natural choice for him. Photo: Sanna Wallenius
Since Alex has always been interested in hands-on activities, construction was a natural choice for him. Photo: Sanna Wallenius

Inside Stadin AO’s Myllypuro unit, the clicking and knocking seems constant. This grand new building was completed already in the autumn of 2023, but under its roof, there is a non-stop construction site where construction students practise their skills. One possible place to practise is the wooden apartment building, made from elements, rising high at the centre of the hall. 

–    Here, you learn really versatile basic skills needed in construction. The overall picture of the industry has deepened tremendously in Stadin AO, says Alex Mutampa thankfully.

For Alex, construction was a natural choice, as he has always been interested in hands-on activities.

–    I got a feel of the industry even before my studies, as I was helping out at construction sites and saw what the work is like in practice.

Stadin AO’s Vocational Qualification in Construction takes two to three years to complete. The studies can be customised with practical training periods and optional subjects. Even apprenticeship training is possible.

–    The Vocational Qualification in Construction includes many practical training periods. Our aim is that first-year students practise here at school and as they advance in their studies they go on construction sites, says teacher Jorma Seppälä.

Dreaming of an engineering degree and entrepreneurship

Also Alex has been able to put his skills in good use. In Rajakylä, Vantaa, he participated in laying the foundations of a garage and building its roof. Last summer, Alex advanced his studies by working as a steel fixer in Kalasatama, Helsinki, were a new tram line is being built to Hermannin Rantatie.

–    I didn’t have that much holidays last summer, but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed working. I have many friends working at construction sites, and I have learned a lot from them.

According to Alex, the most difficult part of his construction studies has been the Finnish language, and he has a lot to learn in that regard. Mutampa has lived in Finland for four years, and yet he has been brave enough to become one of Stadin AO’s tutors, helping out new students if needed. In the opening celebrations of the new unit, Alex also held an inspiring speech in Finnish. 

–    I understand Finnish quite well already, but speaking is still a bit challenging. Luckily, English is also widely used in construction. There are construction sites in Helsinki where English is the main language.

Still, Alex intends to keep studying Finnish, because he hopes continue his studies at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.

–    I’d like to study technical engineering and ultimately start my own construction business. Before I can start a business, I need to gain more work experience and save up some money, thinks Alex.

Renovation builders are always needed


About 40–50 construction experts graduate each year from Stadin AO. During the vocational qualification, possible fields to specialise in are housebuilding, stone building and infrastructure building. Students can target their skills further with various optional subjects.

–    Many specialise in tiling, masonry or waterproofing. And then there is the carpenter line, focusing on frame manufacturing of houses and interior and exterior construction, says Jorma Seppälä.

Seppälä has worked for 22 years as a teacher, and he is an old-school building contractor, who has graduated from vocational college and then studied to become a construction engineer.

–    Construction as an industry suits for people with excellent manual skills who can solve problems. In this job, you need to know how to read construction drawings but also know how to actually apply them in practice.

Alex Mutampa wants to correct a common misconception about his profession.

–    Many think that this industry is hard, but it’s not the case at all anymore. The work is diverse and you will keep fit as the work involves a lot of moving around.

Although recessions often temporarily weaken the employment prospects of the construction industry, Jorma Seppälä believes that good workers will always find work. Still, he has one tip for students.

–    You should specialise in renovation, because it’s not so sensitive to economic cycles. I am of the opinion that our society is complete when there is slightly more renovation than new construction. If we think about Paris or London, this is already the case there.

Text and images: Sanna Wallenius