Google Finland, SAK and Demos Helsinki to join forces for lifelong-learning solutions

Google Finland and SAK aim to find solutions for lifelong learning that would not leave anyone in the society outside. Enabling individuals to learn new skills throughout their lifetime is a critical challenge for the governments, but also for workplaces and working communities.
09.11.2018 13:25
Photo: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Google Finland and SAK, The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions, are joining forces to find solutions for lifelong-learning. During the work, the parties are commissioning a background study, interviews of experts and a workshop – facilitated by the think tank Demos Helsinki. The report of the results will be published in early 2019.

Hannu Jouhki

– Both SAK and Google wish that people could flexibly learn new working skills – regardless of their backgrounds and life circumstances. Technological development has changed the skills needed in working life at a rapid pace, says Hannu Jouhki, Director of SAK.

SAK Director Jouhki points out that about 600,000 people of working age in Finland are still lacking any education after basic education. Only 43% of them are employed.

– People should be able to develop digital skills, study artificial intelligence, and anticipate other skills they need in the future. It is not reasonable to think that the individuals have enough support for this now, says Jouhki.

According to a recent study by McKinsey & Co., governments, companies and other stakeholders need to ramp up training opportunities to reskill approximately 230,000 people each year in Finland. However, automation and artificial intelligence can create 100,000 new jobs and a 1.8—3.0% growth in GDP by 2030, the study estimates.

Digital skills are critical, but technology can also help make learning more accessible.

– We’re excited to be a part of this collaboration, looking at how we can enable continuous learning and development for individuals in Finland, says Antti Järvinen, Country Manager of Google Finland.

– SAK helps us to understand the everyday life of different employees and the role of work communities. There’s an urgent need for workplaces to invest in continuous learning.

McKinsey’s study forecasts that there is a clear need for technological, cognitive and creative skills in the future. However, technology is developing rapidly and anticipating the skills requirements for the future is difficult, even impossible.

– A few decision-makers had a vision in the 1990's that we should add coding to the curriculum now, and not in the 2010's, says Julia Jousilahti, Senior Expert at Demos Helsinki.

Jousilahti is happy that the need for continuous learning has been widely recognized in society. Even happier she is about the unique collaboration between Google and SAK.

– It seems that the challenge of continuous learning is not solved only by the public sector or existing educational institutions. We need to experiment with completely new ways of cooperation, says Jousilahti.

The final report of the collaboration project will be completed in January 2019. Despite the different backgrounds, Google and SAK have several common themes to scope. The aim is to find concrete tools to ensure life-long learning at the level of the individual, the work community and society.

– Digital skills are critical, but technology can also help make learning more accessible. Needless to say that Google is a forerunner in these solutions, says SAK's Hannu Jouhki.