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Park takes firsthand look at Swiss vocational school

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Published : 2014-01-21 20:46
Updated : 2014-01-21 20:46

BERN (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited a vocational high school in Switzerland on Tuesday in an effort to learn from the European country's advanced job education system seen as a key to the highly competitive economy.

Bolstering cooperation in vocational training has been a top priority for Park's state visit to Switzerland, a small country with population of mere 8 million yet one of the biggest economies in Europe. The Swiss economy has often been cited as the most competitive in the world.

Behind the economic success of Switzerland, a resource-scarce nation like South Korea, is a highly skilled labor force, and a key point of Park's visit to the country was to take a firsthand look at the country's vocational education and learn from it, officials said.

In a summit on Monday, Park and Swiss President Didier Burkhalter agreed to increase cooperation in vocational education.

The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding that calls for providing vocational training opportunities in Switzerland every year for 20 young South Koreans.

The agreement between the Korea Institute for the Advancement of Technology and the Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering industries (SWISSMEN) is meaningful in that Switzerland has rarely opened its vocational training system to foreign countries, officials said.

On Tuesday, Park toured Commercial-Industrial Vocational School Bern (GIBB), together with Burkhalter and his wife, getting briefed about the school and Switzerland's vocational education system in general. GIBB has about 7,500 students and 600 teachers and instructors.

Park also observed computer-language and engineering classes and held discussions with students.

Later Tuesday, Park was to depart for the ski resort of Davos for an annual gathering of political and business leaders from around the world. She is the second South Korean president ever to attend a meeting of the World Economic Forum, also known as the "Davos Forum," after her predecessor Lee Myung-bak.

Park plans to use the gathering as an investor relations session for the South Korean economy, delivering a keynote speech at the forum to champion her "creative economy" vision and holding a series of one-on-one meetings with global business leaders, such as the CEOs of Cisco, Qualcomm, Saudi Aramco and Siemens.

The main point of those meetings will be to ask for more investment in South Korea, officials said, adding that South Korea lags behind other advanced nations in attracting foreign investment and that the Park administration has made efforts to turn the situation around, including revising a law to promote foreign investment.

Park was to begin a two-day visit to Davos with a meeting with Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers before attending a "Korea Night" function hosted for foreign business leaders, where she plans to outline South Korea's economic policy and call for more investments in the country.

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