Continuous learning at the University of Jyväskylä: high-quality and versatile services for learning throughout career

Broadening one’s competence during the entire working career is important because it supports employment on an individual, social and national basis. The University of Jyväskylä faces the challenges of working life competence by developing diverse tailored training for different needs, as Antti Laitinen and Vilma Räisänen write in the Open University blog.

The concept of continuous learning has figured prominently in the education policy discussion and education development during the past few years. The ongoing national parliamentary reform of continuous learning is, among other things, based on the demand highlighted by the OECD, according to which Finland should create its citizens possibilities to update and maintain their work competence. The reform is not only targeted at universities but it concerns the entire education system.

What does continuous learning mean in practice to working-age people who need to update their expertise? For example, at the University of Jyväskylä, new and more flexible training events meeting working life demands for different life situations, especially during one’s work career, are being created.

New method of financing supports the development of continuous learning at JYU

Universities have reformed continuous learning for quite a while, which is partly due to the new method of financing, effective from the beginning of 2021. How abundant the financing will be depends on how well universities are able to develop their services regarding career-spanning continuous learning.

This is why many universities have developed their supply of services especially as regards continuous learning complementing degree education. Universities must, while conducting their basic duties – research and education – offer opportunities to continuous learning, which has now also been entered in the Universities Act.

Continuous learning is one of the priorities in the University of Jyväskylä education development programme in 2021. The starting point in developing the studies is recognising and meeting society’s competence demands. The new education programs accentuate cooperation with representatives from the business world.

JYU will offer short education programs already in this academic year

The development of continuous learning can already be seen in the versatile studies offered by the University of Jyväskylä and the Open University during the 2020–2021 academic year. Wider thematic study programmes are being developed for career-spanning competence, and students can choose either a longer or shorter one. Consequently, the programs are suitable for different situations in life.

Exemplifying the new courses offered are Human Resources and Leadership in Social Services and Health Care (currently only in Finnish) and Digitally Competent Educators programme (15 ECTS), which is held in English. The new MOOC program consists of shorter online courses, which enable flexible studying regardless of time or space.

Alongside the new courses, digital learning environments and study administration are being developed in order to make the learning experience as smooth as possible. Learning is supposed to be easy and inspiring at different points of life – not forgetting, however, that universities’ functions are strictly based on research.

Scientific research is the foundation of continuous learning studies and career-spanning expertise.

Antti Laitinen

Antti Laitinen
Continuous learning specialist, Project Manager
JYU Student and Academic Services

Vilma Räisänen

Vilma Räisänen
Education Coordinator
JYU Open University