Finland to train technicians
The Kingdom and Finland are to embark on a joint plan to offer technical and vocational education to Saudi youth.
The modalities of cooperation were discussed on Monday during a meeting between Deputy Labor Minister Moufarrej Al-Haqbani and Krista Kiuru, Finland’s minister of education, science and communications, at the Labor Ministry headquarters.
Ahmed Al-Fehaid, undersecretary at the Ministry of Labor for international labor affairs, and Finnish Ambassador Pekka Voutilainen were also present during the talks.
The talks centered on the areas of training, employment and rehabilitation and ways to encourage young Saudis to choose vocational and technical education in preference to public education and academic disciplines.
During the talks, Al-Haqbani said the Kingdom is keen on harnessing the expertise of Finland in providing vocational education to Saudi youth to fulfill the growing demand for technical jobs.
Expressing the government’s keenness on diversifying its economy, Al-Haqbani said that exchange of experience between the two countries would help build the Saudi manpower to cater to the demands of the Kingdom’s labor market.
Minister Kiuru said her country, which has a wide experience in technical and vocational education, would be ready to cooperate with the Kingdom in developing its human resources.
Al-Fehaid explained that there were only 1.4 million Saudis in the private sector, compared with 8.2 million foreign workers. He stressed the need to train the local work force in all relevant areas in the private sector.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and Finland signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of telecommunications. The memorandum was signed by Kiuru and Mohamed Jamil bin Ahmed Mulla, minister of communications and information technology, at the Saudi ministry’s office in the capital.
The accord includes broadband, digital media and cyber security.
Nokia has already done a great deal in facilitating further cooperation between the two countries, she said.
Finland has agreements on education with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC).
Kiuru was accompanied by a large delegation comprising senior officials and technical experts in education and telecommunications.
Ambassador Voutilainen said that Finnish excellence in education has inspired educators worldwide to seek out the key factors behind their success story. The envoy also said the Kingdom is keen on strengthening its education sector and, since its establishment, had always allocated the highest per capita to the education sector and that, like Finland, education in Saudi Arabia is free for all citizens.
Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah recently launched a program to overhaul Saudi schools and ordered the allocation of $22 billion for this ambitious task, which includes building schools to train more than 25,000 teachers and sending many of them abroad for higher education.
According to the ambassador, the balance of trade is slightly in favor of Finland.
He added that Finland is not currently importing petrochemicals from the Kingdom and expressed hope to change this. The Kingdom imports heavy machinery and ICT from Finland, he added.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on bilateral political consultations between their respective ministries of foreign affairs in Jeddah in October 2007.