Vocational training possible in Vidzeme

  • 2001-07-12
  • Rita Rubina
VALMIERA - Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and German Ambassador Reinhart Kraus met in the town of Valmiera last week to open the Vidzeme Vocational Training Center. The center, which aims to fill gaps in advanced education in practical skills, is a joint project between the municipality of Valmiera, a group of local companies, the German aid project Transform, and Germany's Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.

Since 1993 Transform has supported 11 Central and Eastern European countries to, as it puts it, facilitate democracy and economic development. Over the last seven years, Latvia has received 52 million deutschemarks ($22.31 million) for a variety of programs and projects.

"Our goal is to offer courses to qualify people when it is not (otherwise) offered in the market," said Jurgen Marx, director of the center. "We don't want to be competition to other schools."

The center is the biggest project currently being supported by Transform. The total cost of the center is 4.9 million deutschemarks. Of that, 950,000 deutschemarks have come from Latvia.

Courses are being offered in electronics, metalworking, construction, economics and management. The center in Valmiera is not the only school offering such courses in Latvia, but most of the others are private. This one is a social organization partly supported by the state, German institutions and local entrepreneurs. For its part, the state is financing welding courses and schooling for the local unemployed.

It will concentrate on the schooling and requalification of professionals, the unemployed, school students and lecturers.

The first courses are due to start on July 15 and Sept. 1. But as the center offers a flexible schedule both for the length and content of each course, companies can choose the time that fits them best. The lecturers are mainly from Latvia but also from abroad.

"This is a Latvian training center, therefore foreigners are here only as advisers," said Martin Stern, training coordinator at the center.

He added, "One of the problems is that it's hard to find good lecturers in the Vidzeme area. At present we're trying to cope with that by also inviting some lecturers from Riga."

"The center is the best example of effective cooperation between Latvia and Germany," said Maris Kucinskis, Valmiera's mayor.