Reform has opened up new continuous learning opportunities but it should not stop here
The reform of continuous learning, launched under the Government Programme, has promoted the opportunities of working-age people to improve their knowledge and skills, and increased the availability of skilled labour. The final report on the reform implementation and on the next steps was submitted on 1 March 2023 to the Members of Parliament who participated in the drafting of the parliamentary policy approaches for continuous learning.
The reform of continuous learning seeks to respond to the skills needs arising from changes in the world of work, which is why it aims to develop the education and employment services as a whole. At the end of 2020, the reform introduced policies which included a vision and goals for 2030, and 27 measures to achieve them. The implementation of these policies will continue during the next government term, and it will be important to complete the work as planned.
The Service Centre for Continuous Learning and Employment finances competence services and fills gaps in the education and training provision
The reform led to the establishment of a Service Centre for Continuous Learning and Employment, which helps to improve the skills of working-age people and promote the availability of skilled labour. To respond to skills needs that either arise suddenly or involve supplementing other education and training provision, the Service Centre finances targeted training based on foresight information. The training programmes are designed to alleviate skills shortages in the healthcare and social welfare sector, in early childhood education and care, and in the hospitality, tourism, culture and events industries that have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet the needs of the green transition and digitalisation, which require new expertise, the Service Centre also finances training related to the hydrogen economy and the battery industry, which would not otherwise be available.
The Service Centre develops and experiments with new ways of reaching employed people who normally participate in training and education less than others. These outreach pilots, which are carried out in 1,200 companies, will also provide research data on the impacts of the measures. In addition, the Service Centre analyses foresight information on skills and labour force needs, develops information, advice and guidance services, and boosts the effectiveness of regional and other collaboration networks.
New services and reskilling methods
The reform of continuous learning seeks to develop micro-credentials and a national Open Badge system for basic skills for adults, which will help to identify and recognise learning acquired through non-qualification programmes. Micro-credentials enable the acquisition of learning needed in employment without completing a full qualification programme. New tools were created and peer learning networks for SMEs established to promote learning at work. The proposals for the national principles for identifying learning acquired at workplaces and outside the official education system will be submitted by the end of 2024.
The study opportunities for unemployed people were improved and labour market training was targeted according to the needs for skilled labour. The service process for jobseekers was reformed so that, especially in the early stages of looking for work, jobseekers would be actively offered job seeking services and support. The assessment of the jobseeker’s need for services is used to identify both skills shortages and the best ways of acquiring learning. Jobseekers’ opportunities to study while retaining unemployment benefits were improved and the income limits for student financial aid raised.
EUR 76 million was allocated from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility for 2021–2024 to implement the continuous learning policies. Financing was allocated to education and training that support structural change, to outreach activities, to developing the identification, forecasting and direction of skills and learning, and to the continuous learning digitalisation programme.
The programme includes a digital service package for continuous learning to build services that support individuals’ educational and career choices, upskilling and reskilling, and the matching of demand for labour and education with supply. The service package gathers and produces data to meet the needs of employers, education and training providers, service providers and the authorities. In addition to building new digital services, the programme will use and improve existing digital services and information resources, especially Job Market Finland and Studyinfo. To begin with, the Studyinfo website is being expanded in order to provide as many education and training options as possible through a single service point. Development, with funds from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, will continue in 2024 and 2025, by which time most of the new services should be launched.
Continuous learning reforms will also be promoted through the social security reform and the WORK2030 programme.
- Reforming continuous learning together: Final report of the project to reform continuous learning (in Finnish)
Inquiries: Saara Ikkelä, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 2953 30109
Teija Felt, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Labour Market, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 2950 49080