A survey made by the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce in 2019 showed that the lack of skilled workforce is acute, and a substantial amount of companies also considered it as an obstacle to business growth. One might assume the pandemic would have changed the situation upside down – however, that is not the prevailing situation. A survey made in September 2020 proved the assumption wrong: more than 50 % of respondents in Helsinki region stated that the companies are still suffering of the lack of skilled workforce. 24 % of respondents also mentioned that they are planning on recruiting during the next six months. At same time the amount of unemployed people has grown rapidly.
The Covid-19 is not the only challenge we are struggling with at now. In the area of Uusimaa, almost 20 % of the workforce will retire during the next 15 years. At same time Uusimaa’s share of the population in Finland is growing and its share of the workforce will be almost 40 % of the total population by year 2040. In the future a growing number of jobs also require a higher education degree. Having a look on OECD’s report, one can find out the growth of the number of people with higher education degree is not fast enough to fulfil the companies’ need for skilled workforce. During years 2009-2019 the share of highly educated people among 25-34 years old was 42% in Uusimaa area, while in other OECD countries the figure was 45 %. The growth in Uusimaa area was only 2 percentage points while in other OECD countries the average growth in 10 years was 9 percentage points.
For reasons stated above the need to find solutions for the lack of skilled workforce is urgent. It is quite clear we need more capacity in higher education nationwide but especially in Uusimaa. At the moment the number of new students in higher education is not sufficient due to lack of entry places in the area. Therefore young people living in Uusimaa area need to apply to universities and universities of applied sciences elsewhere in Finland.
Another key element is to find solutions to build quick and flexible paths to update one’s competencies during the career, in other words we need a variety of flexible possibilities for personal lifelong learning. In addition to that, the transition from the secondary level education to the higher education institutions needs different, individual alternatives.
A third element worth to mention is the importance of co-operation between companies and educational institutions at secondary and higher level. A smooth, multi-level co-operation is more or less a prerequisite to get a quick fulfilment for companies’ specific needs of skilled workforce.