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Common policies adopted for reforming continuous learning – securing the future with competence

Ministry of Economic Affairs and EmploymentMinistry of Education and Culture
Publication date 17.12.2020 9.43 | Published in English on 17.12.2020 at 13.29
Press release
#JatkuvaOppiminen ja kaksi toisiinsa limittyvää ratasta.

A group of Members of Parliament have adopted policy approaches for continuous learning that promote the opportunities of working-age people to develop their competence and ensure the availability of skilled labour. Since the reform aims to respond specifically to the competence needs arising from changes in the world of work, education and employment services will be enhanced as a whole.

The policy approaches that guide the development of continuous learning are related to learning as part of working life, to the service system for continuous learning and to accessibility of services. The policies identify means and support measures aimed at ensuring that all working-age people can develop their skills and competence. More opportunities will be provided for studying and learning in the workplace, and the matching of the demand and supply of skilled labour will be improved.

- Working life and the competences that are needed in the world of work are changing rapidly. It is no longer enough that you acquire one type of competence when you’re young and that will see you through to the end of your career. We all need to update our competences and engage in continuous learning. This is why it is important that genuine opportunities are available to everyone to update their competence during their working career. The policies adopted by the parliamentary group in their work form an important basis for further development, said Minister of Education Li Andersson.

- The COVID-19 crisis will further accelerate structural changes in the world of work. It is anticipated that hundreds of thousands of people will need to update their competences. We must ensure that those with a lower level of education and those in a weaker position in the labour market can find ways to easily supplement their competences. This reform is about employment, said Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.

- We should make sure learning can be continuous and unlimited. With society and the world of work changing, we see more learning taking place beyond the education system – in workplaces, in recreational activities and in leisure time. Closer cooperation between education and working life and diverse educational opportunities for the working-age population are needed. By promoting continuous learning, we will strengthen the relevance and impact of competence, education and research-based knowledge throughout our society, said Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko.

This reform, which was prepared in the form of a parliamentary procedure, is included in the current Government Programme and will continue to be implemented over the next few years. Parliament will monitor the achievement of the objectives annually. A separate plan will be prepared for implementing the reform. Funding for the reform will be agreed in the context of the General Government Fiscal Plan and central government budgets, reconciling them with other expenditure needs.

Linking continuous learning with working life

Continuous learning should be a strategic part of the activities of organisations, and practices in organisations should be such that they encourage learning. Skills and competence must be identified and made visible. To this end, practices and tools will be developed to identify and recognise competence acquired at work and in other ways.

A better match between education and training and working life will be achieved. The supply of education and training will be complemented by flexible, short-term courses and training that will help respond to quick needs in the world of work and allow people to proactively supplement their competence. The existing provision of education and training will also be developed to meet the needs of the adult population and the world of work.

Cooperation between the providers of jobs and competence services will be stepped up. Workplaces will be used as learning environments. Competence in SMEs and for sole entrepreneurs will be supported through networks.

Providing services in cooperation and guidance based on the one-stop shop principle

Guidance and services operating on the “one-stop shop” principle will be developed so that those who participate less in education and training for various reasons can also be reached. The aim is to reach them by contacting them and going out to workplaces, for example. Personal guidance will also be enhanced in the Employment and Economic Development Offices.

To find information and suitable services, a digital service will be introduced that combines education and training provision, guidance services and information on the labour market. The package includes mapping out and identifying competence and career planning services as well as foresight information. A set of intelligent e-services will operate as a platform for a continuous learning service system.

Forecasting and harnessing employment, education and competence needs will be improved so that education and training can be focused properly and skilled labour is available in all regions and sectors as needed. By stepping up cooperation between workplaces, educational institutions and organisations providing working life services, the demand for competence can be met more appropriately and more promptly. The link between employment and business policy and education policy in the regions will be strengthened, as will cooperation between education and training, employment, business services and networks.

To support services, the continuous learning service system will require coordination and a structure that can help match skills demand and supply, anticipate competence needs, regenerate and procure competence services, and support the collaborative structures in the regions.

System of benefits to support the objectives of the reform

The policy approaches underscore the need to develop study opportunities for unemployed people and to examine the benefit system from the point of view of population groups who are underrepresented in education and training. When developing student financial aid, an assessment will be made into the possibilities of reorganising it so that it can better support continuous learning.

Changes to benefit systems can support the objectives of the reform of continuous learning, such as raising the level of competence, improving the level of competence and participation of groups underrepresented in education and training, and reconciling work and studies.  Benefits and income will be examined as a whole in the social security reform extending to 2027.

Policy approaches for reforming continuous learning (in Finnish)
Information on the reforming of continuous learning


Kirsi Heinivirta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 136
Teija Felt, Labour Market Counsellor, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 049 080

Annika Saarikko Education General education Higher education and research Li Andersson Tuula Haatainen Vocational education and training