Helsinki’s Conservative Party “MayorGate”

Helsinki definitely needs to have a new mayor in Helsinki because the present Conservative Party man who is now leaving, at last, is a disaster for the country. 

Like the former Conservative Education Minister, Ms. Grahn-Laasonen, Mr. Vapaavuori likes to pretend that he is supporting education in Finland when all he does are cuts in the budget for Helsinki schools. Readers will recall that in 2016, Ms. Grahn-Laasonen, then the Education Minister, engineered cuts in the budget for schools and universities – Finland’s main hope for the future in the globalized world…

… and this present mayor talks a lot about austerity and cuts in education even when Helsinki is showing a healthy budget surplus.

He considers that it is his duty to cut the education budget at a time when many poorly performing students in Helsinki are having a hard time getting through school because of Covid-19. 

Distance learning is hard for weaker students, especially when their parents may be unemployed or laid-off. They need more support than students from well-educated parents who have safe jobs.

We more investment in education and training, not less money and this has been known for years from the many from recent reports commissioned or received by our governments – here are some clear examples:

1. The OECD Finland Economic Survey told Finland to make sure that many more young people get into university or vocational skills faster. Student places need to be increased and tertiary entrance exams should be made less selective – Finland Economic Report 2021, OECD

2. A growing talent deficit – “A lack of ‘smart capital’ skilled at taking risks” – Working group on sustainable growth 2021, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 

3. Productivity and competitiveness in Finland – “…by investing in education and innovation policy, the government can promote innovation activities and productivity growth in firms, in other words the long- term competitiveness of the national economy. – Productivity and competitiveness in Finland, 2021, Ministry of Finance 

4. Painfully slow change “Structures in Finnish society need to be challenged and questioned, because we tend to stick to whatever has worked in the past. The themes of our past forums are good examples of this: our education system, our security policy, the structures of our labour market.” – Sitra 2015

The rational for improvements in access to education and training is clear – Finland’s population is ageing fast, and the birth rate is extremely low at 1.4 down from 1.8 at the start of the financial crisis. Workers are needed to keep the flow of goods and services operating and tax revenues must remain sufficiently high to support the larger number of pensioners. Education improves our national pool of talent, our employment rate, and our competitiveness…

… and what does our Mayor from Helsinki do? He cuts the education budget just like the rest of the Conservative party that preach the virtues about austerity except when it feathers their own pockets…

… he is the perfect example of the “revolving-door-politician” – he is leaving the public sector to head up Finland’s Olympic Committee, a hard job involving tiresome business class trips and fine hotels, and by taking up two advisory posts; one with a private right-wing lobby group and the other with a big foreign real-estate development company that also needs his lobbying skills to get construction business. There was a public outcry about the lack of a quarantine period, but he just said that Finns are always so green with envy!

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