The Finnish vocational education and training (VET) is competence-based, customer-oriented and accessible to all. It supports continuing learning and is designed to meet labour market and learner needs, including adults. VET is flexible and individualised: a personal competence development plan is drawn up for each learner. It recognises learners’ existing skills, outlines what competences are still required for a qualification and explains how to acquire them. Learners may acquire full qualifications or individual parts, and even combine parts of different qualifications.
Finland´s skills development system is one of the most successful among the OECD countries with two out of three adults participating in formal or non-formal learning every year. Yet there is still a gap in learning participation between adults with low basic skills and those with higher skill levels, according to the 2020 OECD report, which highlighted challenges and recommendations on how to maintain the current level of continuing learning and adapt the skills development system for the needs of a rapidly changing labour market. Challenges include limited upskilling opportunities for adults with vocational qualifications and, more generally, limited availability of short courses relevant to the labour market. The OECD recommends developing more tailored education programmes that aim to improve motivation to learn. More guidance services and comprehensive information should also be available for those with low skills.
A good basis for continuing learning to address challenges already exists. The Ministry of Education and Culture has launched a reform of continuing learning with the objective of creating new models for on-the-job learning and for reaching out to groups that are currently underrepresented in adult education. This includes improving the system of financial incentives encouraging participation in non-formal and informal learning. The reform is being prepared in cooperation with all political parties and social partners, with a policy outline expected by the end of 2020.