The COVID-19 crisis accelerates the structural change of the Finnish economy. With the intelligent automation old jobs will die, and new jobs are born at the same time. New skills are needed as technological development significantly changes every third job. Nearly 80% of new jobs require higher education, while the number of the tasks with the lower education
are reduced the most. However, we do not have enough alternatives to raise the level of vocational education.
The skills level of Finns is decreasing, and there are many people with merely a basic education background, even though this is no longer enough to get a job.
Right now, it is more important than ever for us to create conditions for new jobs. The key is to fill skills gaps and develop new skills. We need to ensure that the lack of knowledge and skills do not hamper adapting to structural change and recovering from the crisis in society and working life. It is essential to respond more quickly to changes in the skill needs of working life at national and regional levels. The challenge is to improve the predictability of the educational and the labour market needs.
In addition to the extension of compulsory education, one solution is the parliamentary reform of continuous learning, which is progressing swiftly. Continuous learning refers to learning accessible throughout people's lives and extending to different areas of life. It means developing skills, both at different stages of education and in working life. It means updating skills throughout our entire life, so that, in a rapidly changing world and a new working life, our skills and knowledge will also change.
In Finland, a major challenge is the accumulation of education, while those who need education most are easily excluded from it. Therefore, it is vital to make the updating of skills accessible to everyone. Reaching the excluded groups and instructing them to services requires outreaching work and services, which serve people on the one-stop shop principle. Identified needs and tailored services ensure that each person's own learning abilities, efforts and life situation can be taken into account more effectively than at present.
Those who participate in education less have to be included. Lack of participation is often a result from poor basic skills and low basic education, but also from weak motivation and economic reasons. Learning and language difficulties, exclusion, health and social problems or broken careers may also prevent access to education. By matching services and lowering the threshold for participation, we can support and encourage persons who are otherwise not engaged in studying to build up their skills.
The reform of continuous learning will be one of Finland's most important reforms in the 2020's, covering skills of working age people, the provision of education and employment needs as a whole.Succeeding in the reform will play a key role in the creation of new jobs and in our nation's future success.
Eeva-Johanna Eloranta - MP
Eeva-Johanna Eloranta is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the Social Democratic Party of Finland at the Finland Proper constituency.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
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