Finland needs a lifelong learning policy where the development of skills and competences is seen as a long-term investment and a source of well-being.


What is it about?

The Finnish education system has for a long time been regarded as one of the best in the world and Finland’s success in the global economy has been based on the high level of expertise provided by it. Megatrends such as the development of technology, the transformation of work and aging population are challenging our current sources of livelihood and our education system. Current structures such as the boundaries between the areas of responsibility in public administration, the funding systems reflecting these and incentives do not sufficiently support flexible learning at different stages of life. 

What is needed is a systemic change to ensure that our learning capital is constantly at the highest possible level and our skills and knowledge help us respond to changes in our operating environment. Consideration must be given to the sufficient level of resources, how competence is produced, how the structures can be made effective and what kind of steering mechanisms are needed. 

Broad-based competence and education strengthen an individual’s well-being and competitive edge in the labour market and improve societal cohesion and the participation of citizens – the foundations of our welfare society. This way Finland will become a pioneer of lifelong learning. 

What do we do? 

The aim of Sitra’s Lifelong learning focus area is to support different actors in Finland in order to develop a cross-sectional policy for lifelong learning. The aim of this three-year project is to speed up the transition to a lifelong learning policy in which competence and work are seen as the building materials of well-being. The resources used to build competence are seen as a profitable investment in Finland’s competitiveness. 

Sitra’s role is to act as a neutral bridge-builder to make a lifelong learning policy possible. Such a policy would include an effective steering and funding system and an education system that guarantees a broad competence base and the capabilities required for lifelong learning to everyone in Finland. With this competence base, people will be able to use the opportunities available to build extensive, high-quality expertise flexibly at different stages and situations throughout life. 

Who is participating? 

The process of preparing the roadmap and the funding principles will be co-ordinated by key representatives from central government and the fields of employment and education. The participation of these representatives and their impact will be realised by different forums and the use of electronic working methods. The work will make use of relevant research carried out in Finland and abroad. The aim is to support political parties and those developing lifelong learning so that future challenges can be met. 

Sitra will provide an arena for joint discussion, support interaction between participants and carry out background preparation work to create a basis for the discussion. The results of the work carried out in the focus area will be openly available and can be used by everyone interested in the development of continuous learning. 

Where are we now?

Work on the Lifelong learning focus area began in spring 2018 by exploring the development proposals and development measures underway in the field of lifelong learning. The actual work in the focus area began in October 2018 with the preparation of a broad-based long-term aim for lifelong learning.

In October 2018, we published a report on the current flows of money in lifelong learning. The report provided the first comprehensive look at the flows of money in education and learning Finland.

In March 2019, we published a shared understanding of the main objectives of lifelong learning, the challenges to lifelong learning and the principles of its funding. The publication Towards lifelong learning summarised the shared understanding of 30 key interest groups on the topic.

The parties drawing up the Government Programme used the results of the work carried out by the representatives of the 30 interest groups in their planning. The reform of lifelong learning was included in the Government Programme and it is currently prepared by a parliamentary working group. Sitra participated in launching the group’s work and supports it by producing information on lifelong learning.

We brought up the views of Finnish adults on lifelong learning by arranging the Lifelong learning in Finland 2019 survey, to which responses were received from more than 2,000 Finns between 18 and 85 years of age. According to the results of the survey, people of all ages enjoy learning and a broad education is an asset as such.

Between 2019 and 2021, work in the focus area will continue with the production of information on lifelong learning, the creation of a roadmap for the development of lifelong learning and by exploring the potential for implementing collaborative or experimental projects.


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