Our Digital Frontrunners Spotlight features continue with Finland where the latest Digital Frontrunners workshop on future skills took place on 19-20th September.
Finland has received lots of attention for its ambitious goals to harness AI and its many applications, including its implications for the future of work. The government’s AI strategy - launched in 2017 - has been setting up a fertile landscape for new innovations and initiatives committed to making the country a frontrunner in artificial intelligence.
For example, the public sector is developing the virtual assistant Aurora that aims to create a platform for people to seamlessly connect with public and private service providers such as employment agencies and healthcare professionals. They’ll be able to monitor the relevance of their skills, when these need updating, and receive support to apply for jobs. Another initiative, the ‘Elements of AI’ free online course, has attracted tens of thousands of learners all over the world and is set to become the most popular course in the history of the University of Helsinki since its launch in 2017.
Although Finland’s overall DESI score dropped one level this year (from number 2 to number 3), the country remains first in the category of human capital. This index captures the number of internet users, citizens with basic digital skills, the supply of ICT professionals and STEM graduates. Overall, adult participation in learning is one of the highest in the EU and has increased consecutively during the last ten years. According to The Education and Training Monitor 2017, Finnish adults are one the most dedicated learners in the EU with the score 27,4% in 2017 (EU average 10,9%).
One of the reasons for the success is that digital skills and education have played a great part in the government’s strategy. On the other hand, Finland has a holistic approach towards citizenship education with a continuously developing and comprehensive adult learning system. Last spring, the government proposed allocating an additional 60 million Euros in its budget for skilling the labour force, with a special focus on digital skills. According to a recent report from the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, almost 20 billion Euros public and private funds were directed to the development of skills and education in Finland in 2017.
Despite all this, the supply of talent with the right technical skills still drags behind demand as in many other Digital Frontrunner countries. Luckily, recent policies and government action plans have started to adopt a mindset shift from a supply-oriented approach of skills towards a more demand-driven one where skills forecasting plays a great part.
Recently, the Panel of the Future Competencies, set up by The Ministry of Education and Culture published a report on how new technologies determine what kind of competencies will be in demand in the future and how the financing of ongoing education and lifelong learning should be allocated based on this.
Below we present some of the most promising policy and training initiatives tackling the ongoing skills challenge in Finland.
“We need more low-threshold digital skills training, critical literacy and other complementary skills“The Minister of Education and Culture Sanni Grahn-Laasonen
A high-level strategy with a special focus on growing talent
“There is a need for a new skills account designed for those in work responding to the growing re- and upskilling demands”The report published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 23.10.2017
Visit the Artificial Intelligence Programme website
Fighting against the skills mismatch by training immigrants
“It takes on average more than 5 years for a refugee or an immigrant to get a low-skill job in Finland. Integrify will empower them to take part in society by becoming a software developer in only 6–12 months”Daniel Rahman, CEO and Co-founder of Integrify
Visit the Integrify website
Summarizing the complex environment of expertise
“The impact of optimising labour and education is in the billions of euros. We cannot maximise our productivity if we do not begin managing expertise”Harri Ketamo, founder of Headai
Visit the Headai website
Bringing the culture of experimentation to skills policy
Visit the Experimental Finland website
Supporting the launch of new training models for adults
“It is important to make sure low-threshold training is available for all ages to prevent inequality and to strengthen the basic skills of citizens”Olli-Pekka Heinonen, President of the National Board of Education