Both incentives and motivation needed to ensure learning becomes reality in the workplace
Supplying skills to the labour market, and to society at large, has been a recurring issue since the Government’s National Innovation Council started meeting in 2015. When the Council met on 28 May at Harpsund, the meeting opened with the issue of lifelong learning in the workplace.
Minister for Employment and Integration Ylva Johansson summarises the discussions from the meeting: "Sweden has a strong starting position. The Swedish model means that we encourage and facilitate labour market adjustment. Both central government and the social partners take considerable responsibility in this. However, digitalisation and globalisation place major demands on skills development and learning in the workplace."
What is important to consider in the work going forward?
"The discussion emphasised the importance of business managers giving skills issues greater weight and of strengthening cooperation between working life and education providers. Both incentives and motivation are needed to ensure learning becomes reality in the workplace," says Ms Johansson.
What will the workplaces of the future look like?
"New opportunities to acquire new skills must be available to more people, for example through using online courses or other flexible means of customising and making education accessible for concrete needs. But to ensure that these new skills benefit both the individual and the workplace, a good, supportive learning environment is important," says Ms Johansson.
In the current public debate, there is considerable engagement and interest in the issue of learning, lifelong learning and skills supply. Increasingly greater demands are being made today on continuous learning throughout one's entire working life, but how is this need being addressed in the labour market and at individual workplaces? What characterises a learning workplace?
Minister for Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson, one of the government members of the National Innovation Council, explains more from the meeting.
Could you give a brief summary of what the meeting concluded on this particular point? A concrete example to think about in the work going forward?
"It was an exciting discussion, including many well-informed contributions and good, concrete proposals. Technological developments in digitalisation and automation are resulting in new demands on knowledge and skills in working life. The days when it sufficed to acquire an education at the start of one's career are gone," says Ms Hellmark Knutsson.
"It's clear that we need a holistic approach to education and learning, where every part is needed to ensure a good overall outcome. Continuous learning in the workplace needs to be developed and regarded more as the strategic issue it actually is.
What is most important to ensure the success of lifelong learning?
"From the perspective of higher education, I believe that collaboration between educational institutions and companies must improve. Close cooperation is required to develop the courses the business sector needs and help increase access to the courses currently offered. The development of courses for professionals, digital learning and skills validation opportunities are important parts of the overall picture. More people will need to change their career path or acquire new skills and knowledge throughout their working life. This is why opportunities to study at higher education institutions later in life must increase. We are now working in a coordinated way on a number of education-based reforms throughout the country and through all stages of life. One major reform is expanding higher education throughout the country through resources equivalent to almost 25 000 new places by 2021.