Asylum-seekers educated, trained in forestry work in Lapland

In September MP Mikko Alatalo put forward the idea of helping asylum-seekers find work by having them help with forestry work. This idea will come to fruition in Lapland in spring, 2016 through the collaboration of a local vocational college and a Kemi junior high school. Migrants will study Finnish while literally getting to grips with the country's working life.

Esko pulliainen moottorisahalla karsii kuusta.
A joint project will involve jobless immigrants in forestry in Lapland. Image: Salla Syvänen / Yle

A new integration programme is to begin in spring, 2016 that will employ immigrants and asylum-seekers as a forestry workforce in Lapland. The initiative was the brainchild of Centre Party MP Mikko Alatalo and is being organised by the Lappia vocational college and the Kemi lyceum or secondary school.

The study programme designed by Lappia won the Lapland ELY Centre's competitive bidding just before Christmas.

Further education chief Anni Miettunen from the college says that the education is intended for unemployed immigrants with an interest in forestry.

"The goal is to improve the capabilities of immigrants so that after the training those who took part can find employment in the forestry sector or study the business," Miettunen explains.

Language or work experience not required

The Lappia school's bar is set high, because the forestry course will take on 15 immigrants who are not required to have any prior experience in forestry – or even in the Finnish language.

"The high school will see to the immigrants' language teaching, which partakers will get to grips with while working in the form of technical vocabulary," Miettunen says.

The training involves very practical working periods in forests. Tasks on the list include forest thinning, afforestation (or tree-planting) and environmental management. Those taking part will, for instance, be assisting professional loggers in their work.

The training takes 100 days and begins with an informational package of courses and teaching followed by work experience on the lands of forestry companies, environmental management associations and congregations.

The course in its entirety will also include personal continuation plans for each student, whether in education or working life.

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