Solid foundation for expertise
Education and training policy
Success in an ever-changing business environment is dependent on the highest level of expertise. This encompasses the broad-based skills offered by vocational and university education, as well as class-leading research and development. The foundation for all of this is a solid basic education.
Basic education and upper secondary schools
Basic education in Finland comprises compulsory general education for students between the ages of 7 and 16. Generally, local authorities are responsible for providing basic education. There are also 27 private schools throughout Finland.
Following basic education, young people can apply for an upper secondary education (“lukio” in Finnish) or vocational education or training.
Nevertheless, an alarmingly high proportion of young people – approximately 5 percent – do not find suitable education for themselves after basic education. The transfer from basic education upwards should be promoted through better student counselling and by increasing co-operation between educational institutes.
Vocational degrees can be completed in Finland either at educational institutes themselves or through apprenticeship contracts with companies. In
Approximately half of the recruiting demand of Finnish companies is focused on graduates of vocational education. EK’s goal is for half of each age group to go to upper secondary schools (“lukio”) and half to vocational schools.
The problem with vocational degrees is that too high a proportion, over 10 percent of students, prematurely discontinue their studies each year. Teaching methods should be developed in such a way that practical studies are offered to those who could be helped to learn basic professional skills.
Apprenticeship contracts are one of the best forms of education also for adults. The interest among employed adults in apprenticeships has increased rapidly in recent years. Over 40,000 adults a year participate in apprenticeships, and the demand is even greater.
However, the government has considered it necessary to limit the amount of education offered through quotas. Since the demand for education continuously exceeds these quotas, they should be removed.
Polytechnics and universities
The Finnish higher education system consists of two parallel sectors: polytechnics and universities. Each has its own role to play.
Polytechnics (ammattikorkeakoulut) are more working-life oriented than universities and operate on the basis of the higher expertise requirements set by working life.
Universities are characterised by scientific research and an academic education, providing experts for all areas of society. Universities also play an important role in terms of adult education.
Finland has 25 polytechnics and 16 universities. EK believes that the structure of higher education in Finland should be developed in such a way that each school specialises in its own field, that co-operation between schools is increased, and that all schools complement each other. Co-operation between educational institutes, research institutes and the business sector should also be increased.
EK believes that higher education degrees should be developed to ensure that the supply meets the demand of Finnish business in terms of both quantity and quality. Upon graduation students should have a realistic understanding of their tasks within their field.
The performance management system between the Ministry of Education and the universities should be developed to highlight the importance of the quality and impact of research and education.
"Oivallus" ("Insight" project explores the future competence needs generated by a networked economy)