The annual Education and Training Monitor examines the evolution of Europe’s education and training systems. It illustrates the evolution of education and training systems across Europe, with a particular focus on the country-specific recommendations adopted in the field of education and training.
These country-specific recommendations, proposed by the Commission and adopted by the Council, are based on an assessment of each Member State’s key challenges and aim at offering tailor-made guidance. Many of these recommendations call on to combat early school leaving, increase tertiary attainment, improve school or vocational education and training system by making their outcomes more relevant for the labour market, and secure the necessary funding for investments in education.
According to the Education and Training MonitorFinland has been hence able to maintain its education budget throughout the financial crisis, and its public expenditure on education has remained above the EU average, despite a generally difficult economic context.
The public expenditure on education remained stable in Finland during the period 2008-2011, from 5.9% of GDP in 2008 to 6.4 % of GDP in 2011, and remains significantly higher than the EU general average of 5.3% in 2011.
Main challenges and recommendations
In general Finland has been able to maintain its high international position, particularly on basic skills.
In the context of an ageing population, the employability of older workers and the need to delay their exit from the labour market on the one hand, and the level of youth unemployment and a lack of relevant skills among young job seekers on the other, are growing sources of concern for Finland, particularly young people not in employment, education and /or training (NEETs, ca. 40.000 persons). A major initiative in this area is the “Social Guarantee for Young People: education, work and tailored services”.
Finally, Finland will have to face in the future the issue of increasing the efficiency of its public spending on education, in particular in the tertiary sector.
Tackling early school leaving and drop-out
Finland performs better than the EU average for the early school-leaving rate. In Finland it was 8.9 % vs. an EU average of 12.8% in 2012. However, it tends to be significantly higher among migrants, with an estimate of 14.9% in 2012. The overall rate of ESL has remained fairly stable for the last decade. For the period 2011-12 the early school-leaving rate has decreased by 0.9 pp.
Compared with the nation as a whole, migrant youths in Finland are more exposed to early school leaving. The situation is especially challenging for those young people who have arrived in Finland in the final stages of the Finnish programme of compulsory education. Thus language training for immigrants is to be increased at secondary and upper-secondary level as well as adult education centres, allowing for the improvement of their study prospects and their language skills.
As part of the enhanced Youth Guarantee, Finland has increased the number of available study places in VET by 1.700. These study places were created particularly in geographical areas where there previously was relatively few study places available compared with the relevant age group. The Youth Guarantee package consists of various elements: a guarantee of employment, education or training, as well as a young adults’ skills programme, a youth ‘workshop’, and outreach youth work.
The Government budget proposal includes 60 million EUR destined for local authorities for the employment, education and training guarantee in 2013. The young adults’ skills programme will be implemented in 2013-2016, with a budget of 27 million EUR in 2013 and 52 million EUR in the years 2014-2016. In this context opportunities to achieve a vocational qualification or a part of it will be provided for those 20-29 year olds who only have achieved the comprehensive school leaving certificate. As regards the youth workshop and outreach youth work the funding for the period 2013-2015 is set to be of 19.5 million EUR, and 11.5 million EUR in 2016.
Finland also decided to improve student guidance during and after the end of compulsory education. The aim is give local authorities the legal responsibility to provide young people, who have ended compulsory education without a qualification, with professional career counselling and guidance.
The challenge of doing more with less
According to the report in the future Finland will have to address the issue of the efficiency of public spending in higher education, given one of the longest times to degree in all of the OECD countries, as well as the relative importance of expenditure in the tertiary sector.
Finland is performing quite well as regards the tertiary attainment rate, with 45.8% (EU wide definition) as against an EU average of 35.7% in 2012. The rate for foreign born persons remains lower than for natives, with 33% vs. 47% in 2012.
The supply of upper secondary education is strong and due to high completion rates, tertiary attainment is high as well. Moreover, investment is very high and still increasing. Employment advantage is, interestingly, not so strong. So it’s not per se a direct labour market incentive that makes people continue into higher education.
The internationalisation and attractiveness for overseas students of the Finnish tertiary sector remain a challenge and will have to be further developed in the future.
Investing in skills and qualifications
Public expenditure on education (COFOG data) remained stable in Finland during the period 2008-2011, from 5.9% of GDP in 2008 to 6.4 % of GDP in 2011, and remains significantly higher than the EU general average of 5.3% in 2011.
Finland has been hence able to maintain its education budget throughout the financial crisis, and its public expenditure on education has remained above the EU average, despite a generally difficult economic context.