Recent developments in Finland
In 2019 Finland experienced positive changes in the sphere of adult education which have raised hopes for the future of the field. To start with, following the parliamentary elections in April 2019, the new leftist-central-liberal government declared in June 2019 that there will be a "redeeming of honour of education" with an increase in funding. For two years before that, in 2016-2017, the public funds had been reduced by the previous government.
Meanwhile, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra has been working on developing recommendations for cross-sectional policies in lifelong learning. In 2018 and 2019 the fund published reports on future lifelong learning policy making and public-private finance guidelines. The aim of this project is to speed up the transition to a lifelong learning policy in which competences and work are seen as the building blocks of well-being. In the publication "Towards lifelong learning – the shared mind-set, funding principles and challenges" representatives of 30 key organizations shared a common vision on future directions, and identified eight challenges that are currently impeding the required reforms.
Following the work of Sitra, the Ministry of Education and Culture launched a working group on continuous learning, with a mission to reform educational efforts to meet the challenges of the labour market. In particular, the working group is concerned with questions of upskilling, competence assessment and flexible arrangements for creating individual learning paths as a response to the big learning challenges and changes in working life.
In a mid-term report published in April 2019, the group proposed a national reform of continuous learning. The report suggests that a national strategy on continuous learning, extended until 2030, should be drawn up, which would offer reform implementation schemes and measures. The strategy should at least include the following objectives:
1. Explore the possibility of adopting skills-mapping for people of working age.
2. Modernise and bring together guidance, including digital services and individual study, and career guidance.
3. Increase the visibility of competences acquired in working life and elsewhere.
4. Create a proactive restructuring model.
5. Increase public awareness of the benefits and opportunities of continuous learning. Develop concepts for study opportunities that target different audiences.