Towards personalized study and career paths

Vesa Silfver, Senior Manager, Deloitte Finland

Finland was ranked number one in this year’s Social Progress Index (SPI). This is partly because we have managed to create one of the best education systems in the world—a system that provides Finns with a sound basis for their future welfare. As a father of two small boys, I was delighted to hear this news. However, the results also reveal that young men have a high risk of dropping out of their studies after primary school. This is an alarming piece of news, both for Finland and for me as a father. How can we ensure that the Finnish education system meets the needs of future society?

Powerful global megatrends in employment and private life, technological advances and structural changes in business life set new kinds of demands on our education system. The Finnish population is becoming more diverse, and we must find new teaching approaches that satisfy the needs of different groups. According to estimates, advanced economies will become more and more knowledge-based, which means that knowledge and skills will be the most important of competitive advantages between nations. Many studies show that Millennials who have already entered the job market are motivated by a sense of meaning—and they want to find it in their work.

Even classrooms become digital

What will a typical classroom look like in the future? Virtual learning, digitalization and gamification will redefine the concept of the classroom and affect all teaching. Teachers must be able to identify and nurture the individual strengths of students in order to motivate students of all ages to embrace life-long learning. Students will learn from each other through various projects in learning environments they have organized themselves. Let’s take a closer look at:

Personalized study and career paths: The focus will shift to life-long learning that enables students to develop their personal skills and interests and build individual study and career paths to support these. Students will see the effects of their individual choices on their career opportunities with the help of public job market forecasts and analytics. New student-centric solutions allow students to track the progress of their studies and careers and support early interventions in the case of obstacles or problems.

Learning ecosystem: There is a growing need for digital platforms where young and adult learners, communities and businesses can meet to discuss real-life challenges and the challenges facing organizations. Studies will become more solution-oriented and focus on examining working life and social phenomena.

New role of classrooms: The role of remote work will become more important in teaching and independent learning assignments, and classrooms will become places where students apply what’s learned to real-life phenomena and solve problems in teams. Teaching methods will change, and the students will be given more responsibility for their learning. Teaching environments will expand beyond the classroom.

These 100 innovative projects developed by Finnish schools or the results of Sitra’s New Education Forum offer a glimpse of what the above might mean in practice.

The trends discussed above mean that we must develop our education system—which already is top of the class—further, so that it meets the needs of young and adult learners and working life demands. There has been much talk about education exports in recent years. However, in order to export its education, Finland must boldly digitalize existing teaching methods and invest in agile pilot projects. It seems that my sons will have a very different school experience from the one I had in the 1980s, and I am excited to see the changes that will take place.

- Vesa Silfver, Senior Manager, Deloitte Finland

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