The changing demands of work will significantly increase the need for upskilling and continuous learning. The term ‘continuous learning’ was introduced in Finland to emphasise the importance of upskilling and reskilling as opposed to lifelong learning, which takes place occasionally during a person’s lifetime.
In Finland and many other EU countries, the greatest demand in the labour market is for highly skilled workers. People in high-skill jobs are also the ones who most actively express that they need to learn continuously.
Demographic changes also create new challenges. Our workforce is ageing, and it is increasingly more important to make sure everyone’s skills are up-to-date so that people can remain employable. Immigration introduces new, different groups of people, some of whom possess advanced skills that we should take into use as swiftly as possible, while some lack proper basic education and even the ability to read and write.
To raise the employment rate, Finland needs a supply of skilled labour. Continuous learning responds to the need to develop competence at different stages of people’s lives and careers.
Responding to new competence needs requires flexibility in the education system and opportunities for people to access the education they need during their working life.
Continuous learning and responding to skills shortage
The Government Programme of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo's Government responds to the skills shortage both by developing continuous learning and by making better use of existing skills. The Government will bring in more opportunities for continuous learning, especially in the healthcare and social welfare sector and in the education sector.
Education and training that is designed for adults and leads to a qualification or degree will be targeted at raising the level of education of students or improving their labour market position. Financial resources will be used to encourage the provision and completion of micro-credentials. These will be planned in cooperation with business and industry so that the skills and competence meet the demand. Language teaching for immigrants will be reformed to better integrate it into the education that prepares immigrants for the labour market or further studies.
Finland needs to become better at harnessing the untapped skills and competence potential that already exists in society. For example, we must improve the inclusion and competence of those who are in disguised unemployment and those with impaired capacity to work and disabilities.
The Government will reform the operation of employment services and increase cooperation.
there will be more opportunities to make use of information in order to improve the effectiveness of operations and to make it easier to guide jobseekers to the services they need.
Parliamentary reform of continuous learning
At the end of 2020, the parliamentary group on the reform of continuous learning outlined a vision and goals for 2030, and 27 measures to achieve them. The reform focuses on the potential for upskilling, reskilling and developing competence over the course of people’s careers.
Reform vision and objectives:
Everyone develops their skills and competence during their careers.
- Opportunities for everyone to upskill and reskill proactively, so that they can develop in their work, find a new job and advance in their careers.
- More equitable participation.
Everyone has the knowledge, competence and skills required for employment and a meaningful life.
- A higher level of competence.
- A higher employment rate.
- A higher number and proportion of 25 to 64-year-olds with a higher education degree and lower number and proportion of 25 to 64-year-olds without a post-primary qualification or degree.
Competence renews the world of work and the world of work renews competence.
- A labour force that is skilled supports sustainable growth, innovation and competitiveness, and consequently wellbeing.
- Skilled workforce for employers.
- Workplace communities advocate learning new things.
The reform is based on information that provides a shared view of the current situation, formed by collecting statistics, data from researchers, interviews with experts and citizen surveys, among other things. In 2020, the OECD assessed the current state of continuous learning in Finland and issued its own recommendations.
Reforming continuous learning as part of the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland
The Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland also advances the continuous learning reform. The Programme boosts competitiveness, investment, research, development and innovation, as well as measures to raise skill levels. Of the programme financing, EUR 66 million has been allocated to reforming continuous learning and EUR 10 million to achieving the digital vision of higher education institutions.
Financing for the Sustainable Growth Programme comes from the EU's one-off recovery instrument to boost recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The reform measures will improve employment and sustainable growth by preventing unemployment and by responding to new skills needs which have emerged due to structural changes.
The reform aims to enhance the competence services designed for the working-age population, to improve anticipation, and to target training and guidance to sectors undergoing structural change and to under-represented groups in education.
For guidance and competence mapping, models will be created to prevent unemployment and inactivity and to improve the effectiveness of education and training investments.
The programme for digitalising continuous learning will develop e-services, advance the digital transformation of higher education and improve opportunities for flexible learning.