Finnish wood product training around the world

Understanding of ones work as a part of a larger entity ensures that the work in the value chain can be improved, usually improving profitability as well. International Timber Academy, which is aimed at people working in the wood product business, is offering tools to achieve this goal.  

The idea for this course arose from discussions between various wood product professionals. Wood based product industry has evolved fast towards end use specific requirements, requiring a deeper knowledge of the product and its possibilities for various end uses, which has started to resemble more and more of technical sales.

As there was not any such courses available LAB University developed the International Timber Academy ITA course together with various interest groups in the industry.  The ITA highlights the latest developments in Nordic forestry, production and products, logistics and end-uses for a global audience. 

– About 80 per cent of Finnish wood industry production is exported. Because Nordic timber’s characteristics and end use possibilities are different and often unique compared with wood from other sources it was vital to have a global target audience for the course. That was achieved with the first course, which had 37 students from 13 countries on four continents, explains LAB University’s Senior Lecturer Mr Esa Mikkonen, who is the Course Director and one of the lecturers on the course.


View of the industry

ITA is a university level course, which offers a great package of up to date knowledge from the industry. Students on the inaugural course represent a wide variety of expertise from the entire wood product chain, ranging from production and logistics, to sales and purchasing, and wood product promotion.

– This course is an ideal forum for both sellers and buyers of wood products. It is vital that all the parties have the same basic knowledge and understanding of the product and its properties, environmental credentials, logistic options and such – that will give a sound platform for a fruitful and long term business relationship. The course also offers an ideal opportunity for networking.

The ITA course consists of five modules. The course starts with the forests and forestry, to production of timber-based goods and plywood, to panel products, finally moving to logistics and global wood product markets. The positive environmental credentials of wood products are carried throughout the course, as well.

– We aim to offer a view to Nordic and specifically Finnish forestry, which is rather unique in comparison with many other world regions. Many of our students have been positively surprised about the fact that Finland is a global power when it comes to world exports in wood products. Family forestry, long history of forest protection, the product range and ongoing R&D with exciting new wood-based products have all been big positives for the participants of the course, says Esa Mikkonen.

Part of the course is also dedicated to the role of wood-based building and construction as a tool against climate change.


Distance studying with a study tour to Finland

Each of the four distance learning modules takes a month. The course starts in early February and the last online module will finish at the end of May. 

– We have three campuses at LAB University: Lahti, Lappeenranta and “The Cloud”. ITA is one of the many distance learning courses offered by LAB university both for both for Finnish students, as well as those from around the world. As LAB university has had experience and the means for distance learning, which has meant that courses have been able to continue without disruption despite the COVID-19 virus. We have been able to progress as planned so far.

However, the fifth module, which has been planned for late July – early August to take place in Finland, is still open. If the course cannot be arranged for the summer, the module will be arranged at the earliest possible opportunity.

– The Finland module is a very important part of the ITA course. We shall visit a family forest, see forest operations and have excursions to factories and ports, and we shall also have top-notch visiting lecturers talking about the latest trends in the industry. Therefore, we are ensuring that this final module takes place as planned.  


The next ITA course will start in spring 2021 and it is currently open for applications.