The age group born in the 1970s is for the present set to remain the most educated age group in the history of Finland, indicates an analysis by Aleksi Kalenius and Hannu Karhunen.
“Educational attainment for the age groups who are about to retire has crept up very close to the levels of young age groups. The increase in the education level of the adult population is therefore set to almost come to an end in the early 2020s,” they argued in an article published on the website of Statistics Finland.
Kalenius is a senior specialist in education and science for the OECD and UNESCO, and Karhunen a senior researcher at the Labour Institute for Economic Research.
Finland, they wrote, currently ranks close to the average for developed countries in terms of educational attainment for young people but could see its ranking decline in the years to come.
“The share of people with only a basic education degree has not decreased in Finland since the mid-1980s,” they highlighted. “By 2020, the share of people with only a basic education degree will be relatively even across the entire 20–64 age group, and the decades-long rapid decrease in the number accounted by the lowly educated of the working-age population will come to an end.”
They also pointed out that the share of people with higher education qualifications has begun to decline since the age group born in 1977: the share of people who had completed a higher education degree by the age of 30 has dropped from 42.9 per cent for those born in 1977 to 39.0 per cent for those born in 1984.
Kalenius and Karhunen do not, however, agree with the interpretation that emigration is the main reason for the decline in educational attainment for young people in Finland.
They reminded that although people with higher education qualifications who have moved abroad accounted for over four per cent of the entire age group at one point in time, roughly 60 per cent of the people have since returned to Finland.
“Brain drain has therefore rather mitigated than exacerbated the decline in educational attainment level,” wrote Kalenius and Karhunen.
The decline in educational attainment level is a concern regardless of the reasons behind it, remind Patrizio Lainà, an economist at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), and Juhana Brotherus, the chief economist at the Mortgage Society of Finland.
“The real competitiveness problem: education levels have begun to decline in Finland,” Lainà tweeted in response to the article by Kalenius and Karhunen.
“An alarming situation in Finland. Education cuts will worsen the development further,” added Brotherus.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi