A group of Finnish vocational education and training (VET) experts visited Israel in April to present the Finnish VET system to their Israeli colleagues. During a three-day seminar at Tefen in Galilee they discussed the application of the Finnish model in Israel. The visit was initiated by one of Israel's leading business men Stef Wertheimer, a philanthropist interested in the Finnish education system and wanting to develop vocational education in Israel. The interest in the Finnish system was high among Israeli audience.
Traditionally, Israeli youth apply for academic education which is often seen as the only way to prestigious jobs in the future. Thus, during the past decades the interest in vocational education has decreased and its quality has deteriorated. In addition, the number of university graduates exceeds employment demands. Shai Piron, the Minister of Education, has articulated the need to develop vocational education.
Stef Wertheimer hopes that the attitudes towards VET would change in Israel. He emphasized that the education system should respond to the needs of industry and society more clearly. Wertheimer also believes that education is a tool with which to guarantee employment and to bring various social groups together.
Wertheimer is known for having established seven industrial parks, of which six are located in Israel and one in Turkey. Wertheimer's vision includes the promotion of peace and reconciliation. Israeli Jews and Arabs study and work together at his industrial parks to further understanding and reconciliation between the parties.
The Israeli seminar audience was particularly impressed that Finland has created a functional and prestigious VET system that meets the needs of employment. The graduates are valued in the labor market. The Finnish Ambassador Leena-Kaisa Mikkola emphasized that building an equal and quality education system in Finland required much cooperation with various stakeholders in the society.
At the end of the seminar both Israelis and Finnish experts shared their hopes that the cooperation will continue in the future.
The Finnish VET expert delegation included Kristiina Volmari, Counsellor of Education, Head of Statistics and International Affairs, Finnish National Board of Education; Jari Laukia, Director, School of Vocational Teacher Education, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences; Reija Lepola, Director of VET Centre Sedu; and Kirsi Lounela, Manager of International Affairs of VET Centre Sedu.
The Zur Lavon delegation was led by Dr. Dan Sharon, advisor to Stef Wertheimer.