Reforming continuous learning 

Continuous learning will be reformed, the focus being on the skills of working age people. The reform will respond to the educational needs arising from changes in the world of work and seek solutions to combine work and study. The policies for reforming continuous learning will be published by the end of 2020. Implementation of the comprehensive reform will continue beyond this government term.

The changing demands of work will significantly increase the need for upskilling and continuous learning. The term ‘continuous learning’ was introduced in Finland to emphasise the importance of upskilling and reskilling as opposed to lifelong learning, which takes place occasionally during a person’s lifetime. 

In Finland and many other EU countries, the greatest demand in the labour market is for highly skilled workers. People in high-skill jobs are also the ones who most actively express that they need to learn continuously. Demographic changes also create new challenges. Our workforce is ageing, and it is increasingly more important to make sure everyone’s skills are up-to-date so that people can remain employable. Immigration introduces new, different groups of people, some of whom possess advanced skills that we should take into use as swiftly as possible, while some lack proper basic education and even the ability to read and write.

To raise the employment rate, Finland needs a supply of skilled labour. According to the Government Programme, continuous learning responds to the need to develop competence at different stages of people’s lives and careers.

The policies for reforming continuous learning cover areas such as the provision and financing of education, identification of prior learning, and student income. 

The measures envisaged by the Government include increasing opportunities for retraining, continuing professional development and professional specialisation education throughout working life, developing apprenticeship training as a channel for reskilling and adult education, and providing flexible opportunities to study in higher education institutions. Study leave and financial aid for adult students will be developed, and the opportunities for people to study while looking for work will be improved.

This challenge requires a comprehensive and systemic approach for developing education and learning, taking into account many policy sectors. Education systems will also need to cooperate more closely with working life. One of the key questions is, how non-formal and informal learning can be more efficiently exploited in competence development, and the learning outcomes made visible.

The education system and its financing and guidance will be developed to better support learning in the workplace. In addition, common principles will be set out for recognising prior learning acquired outside formal education. Services will be created to facilitate lifelong guidance, and such services will also focus on supporting groups that are currently underrepresented in adult education. 

Vision and themes

The reform of continuous learning will examine especially the potential for developing competence over the course of people’s careers.

The reform is based on information that provides a shared view of the current situation, formed by collecting statistics, data from researchers, interviews with experts and citizen surveys, among other things. The OECD assessed the current state of continuous learning in Finland and issued its own recommendations.

Based on the overall picture, the following were chosen as the main themes:

1) A system of continuous learning that meets future needs

  • Knowledge management and competence development in the world of work
  • Ways to develop competence and provide education and training
  • Functioning of the labour market (matching, foresight, guidance)

2) Competence of underrepresented groups as a specific issue

The themes will be discussed in more detail in the policies, and a more detailed roadmap for implementing the reform will be prepared. The aim is to monitor how phenomena linked to the reform of continuous learning evolve and to create an assessment framework for how to implement the reform.

The vision of the reform is that:

  • Everyone of working age advances their competence actively and flexibly during their career.
  • Everyone has the skills and competence required for a meaningful life and in a changing world of work.
  • Competence renews the world of work and the world of work renews competence.  A labour force that is skilled supports sustainable growth, innovation and competitiveness, and consequently wellbeing.







Kirsi Heinivirta, suunnittelupäällikkö 
Ministry of Education and Culture, Kansliapäällikkö esikuntineen 0295330136