Mr. Wille Eerola, Honorary Consul General of Pakistan to Finland and Chairman of Finland Pakistan Business Council, lead a delegation of Finnish skill training professionals to Islamabad last week. Delegation consisting of three professionals from TAI, Turku Vocational Institute, of City of Turku, Finland, is one of the biggest skill training institutions in Finland with 10,000 students annually and 500+ employees. The visit was hosted by NUTECH, National University of Technology, leading provider of skill training programs in Islamabad and across the country. Visit included meetings also with the leading key stakeholders and representatives of the Government of Pakistan.
Meeting with the key players, stakeholders and decision makers for concrete cooperation
The one weeks visit was hosted by NUTECH, National University of Technology and in addition to several meetings held with NUTECH’s staff and management and industry representatives, agenda also included meetings e.g. with Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister of Education and Professional Training, Mr. Usman Dar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Youth Affairs and Dr. Nasir Khan, Executive Director of National Vocational & Technical Training Commission. Various talks were held on teachers training, plans to create Centers of Excellence in cooperation between the TAI and Pakistani counterparts and also to develop new, diploma based on programs on hospitality sector, construction, high-tech, IT and healthcare sector.
Delegation visited also the brand new Dental Department and Lab of Shifa International Hospitals and Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University. Various discussions were held also at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in Islamabad about support from Finland to the Prime Minister’s nationwide skill training programs Hunarmand Pakistan (Skills for all), Kamyab Jawan supporting entrepreneurship and job creation in Pakistan.
Being the world’s 5th biggest country with over 200 million people and with a huge pool of young people – 60% of the total population of 220 million people are under 30 years old – the need for skill training is obviously huge. Currently the skill training is not fitted to match such a big demand: the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) is estimating that developing economy of Pakistan would need 1-2 million skilled professionals to enter the labour market in various sectors. Through the skill training programs launched by the Prime Minister Imran Khan, Government of Pakistan has now started with a large offer of educational programs and practices to shorten that gap and one of the main institutions providing these skill programs is NUTECH in Islamabad, developing and modernizing its offer of skill training in close cooperation with TAI, Turku Vocational Institution. NUTECH team visited Turku in 2019 and last week it was time to another visit and concrete talks when the TAI team of Mr. Hannu Immonen, Mr. Timo Haukioja and Mr. Petri Hörkkö visited Islamabad for a week.
Online bridge of skills between Turku and Islamabad
”Really concrete steps are now required in Pakistan and City of Turku has really an unique offer to help through those required steps in whole skill and vocational training sector”, says Wille Eerola, Honorary Consul General of Pakistan in Finland. “And those concrete steps are for example teaching Pakistan teachers to be the best in the region, modernizing all the skills taught to Pakistan youth and matching those with the industry needs, creating totally new programs and building actively cooperating Center of Excellences – like online bridges of skills between Turku and Islamabad! We have been preparing this for a long time and now just all the blocks are clicking together after this visit and earlier one of Turku University of Applied Science and University of Turku in January. We are very excited and happy to see all the work is finally entering a new phase with very concrete cooperation”.
”There is a lot interest on the new Finnish skill and vocational training offer internationally and we are pleased to share all the competence and knowledge we have in Turku. This process started with the visit of the Pakistani counterpart, including representatives of both NUTECH and Shifa International Hospitals, in Turku last year and they were very impressed to see how closely we train our youth in cooperation with the industries, how professional and high-skilled all our teachers and instructors are. Now we have seen their facilities and way they teach the skills, which the Pakistani youth need for their future, and the signed MoU is the starting point for long-term relations to support them to produce the best skilled workforce in Pakistan. This is our export activity of education and competence on skills training from Turku and Finland to Pakistan but also about building a source of skilled workforce we might need one day in Finland”, says Mr. Hannu Immonen, Head of Vocational Education, Turku Vocational Institute
Concrete examples of cooperation already taken into new training programs, MoU signed between four parties.
Delegation visited the NUTECH’s facilities and learning environments as well as Shifa International Hospitals and their Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University, planning now to expand their educational activities in cooperation with the institutions in Turku, also in research and new training programs in nursing, dental sector, medical technology. There was already some immediate results visible based on the ongoing cooperation in the hospitality sector training; students of the new hotel and restaurant training program are already training at the simulated hotel reception and cafeteria, following the principles of TAI’s model presented to Pakistani delegation last year. Hospitality sector – restaurants, hotels, logistics and other tourism related services – is one of the fastest growing business sectors in Pakistan and as tourism is also one the key areas of development by the Government of Pakistan, there is a instant need of skilled workforce.
The active week of was closed with the signing ceremonies of MoU between NUTECH, Shifa International Hospitals, Finland Pakistan Business Council and Turku Vocational Institution. Dr. Manzoor Qazi, CEO of Shifa, Mr. Khalid Asghar, Rector of NUTECH, Mr. Wille Eerola, Honorary Consul General of Pakistan in Finland and Mr. Hannu Immonen, Service Area Director of City of Turku spoke in the event, highlighting the importance of the Finnish-Pakistani cooperation and live, active relations between cities of Turku and Islamabad.