Ms Päivi Luoma, who is Director of Research and Development at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, applauds the work that has been done. "The forest industries are going through a period of global change that emphasizes the significance of expertise as competition tightens between different producer countries. Skilled people and an effective education system are preconditions for the success of the Finnish forest cluster in the future. The forest sector is being strongly renewed. The final report that has just been published draws attention to all the most important education issues for the branch."
The forest industries need people with broad skills in process industry. This also opens opportunities for new, interesting tasks and career development in different areas of the forest sector. The forest industries offer highly-trained employees interesting and international career possibilities. Education should be concentrated and strengthened at all levels. Finnish educational institutions should be international leaders in their field. Top units’ activities should focus on the areas of expertise that have been defined in the forest cluster’s research strategy and should be coordinated. Education should be increased at both the beginning and end of the forest industries’ value chain: forestry, customer fields and business expertise.
The working group that was appointed by the Ministry of Education to study the need to develop education in the forest sector has performed valuable work, since education in this sector is of key importance now and in the future. Around 90,000 persons are presently employed in forestry and the wood products and paper industries in Finland, and the entire forest cluster provides about 200,000 jobs. The gross value of production in the forest industries is around 20 billion euros, and the forest industries account for 20% of Finland’s total exports and over one-third of net exports.
Around 2,500 persons complete courses of study in the forestry, wood products and paper field each year. By 2010 the forest sector’s annual recruitment requirement is estimated to be roughly 3,000-3,500 persons a year.
The working party drew attention to the following development needs:
- focusing education on areas of expertise in the research strategy
- strengthening the coordination and steering of education
- making education in the forest sector more attractive
- developing and strengthening top expertise
- emphasizing internationalization in education
- strengthening the cluster approach and anticipating educational needs
- strengthening and dimensioning education in the forestry field
- strengthening and dimensioning vocational education in the wood products field
- strengthening and dimensioning higher education in the wood products field
- strengthening and dimensioning education in the paper field
- strengthening broad skills with the new basic certificate in process industry
- making effective use of apprenticeship and adult education
- developing entrepreneurship and service activities
Tero Paajanen, professor(emer.) tel. +358 50 353 4285
Päivi Luoma, Director of Research and Development,
Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 40 542 9926