Jussi Halttunen, President of JAMK University of Applied Sciences

How will education change in the future?

" The demand for online teaching, which is independent of time and place, increases each year. At JAMK, we must advance at the vanguard of development and upgrade teaching methods quickly and proactively."

(JAMK's annual report 2014)

The Regional Council of Central Finland has targeted the regional development vision 25 years from now, in 2040, when Central Finland is expected to be a competent and prosperous international region of bioeconomy and digital economy. The focus points of development in the regional programme will be divided into three areas: bioeconomy, digital economy and knowledge based economy. The three areas share the properties of strong internationality and functional, accessible regional structure. The region is hoping to see new enterprises and jobs emerge in all areas.

Universities of applied sciences are key operators in the development of Central Finland. These three economies make excellent focus areas for JAMK University of Applied Sciences. Bioeconomy has excellent resources for creating employment in Central Finland. However, everything depends materially on Metsä-Fibre Oy’s large scale bioproduct factory investment in Äänekoski. The investment division has not been made as of writing this. At JAMK, we have great resources and competence for supporting the emergence of new bioeconomy enterprises in the factory value chains and for enhancing competence in existing companies in the field.

Digital economy and knowledge based economy are interconnected in many ways. In the next five years, we can expect to see digitisation progress faster than any of us can imagine. Simultaneously, different competence requirements are increasing in nearly all occupations. Without powerful, diverse expertise, finding employment becomes difficult both now and in the future, adding pressure on the ageing workforce as well. Then again, with the right insight, the “creative destruction” connected to digitisation development can create new jobs and companies through innovations. Many modern service industry management and routine tasks can be replaced with digital services which the service users can operate independently.

How does all this affect the training offered by JAMK? Digitisation development and related expertise permeates all levels of education. When entering universities of applied sciences, the most skilled young people have already learned a significant number of new skills related to digital information retrieval from the Internet and the use of smartphones, tablets and applications. Future young people will also know increasingly better English. This is why a university of applied sciences must constantly develop its education format offering. The demand for online teaching, which is independent of time and place, increases each year. At JAMK, we must advance at the vanguard of development and upgrade teaching methods quickly and proactively. JAMK has commissioned an interesting report entitled “Tulevaisuuden asiakkaasta aikuis- ja täydennyskoulutuksessa” (“The future customer in adult education and continuing education”). An example of an interesting observation is that while online education is increasing, few people are prepared for fully virtual education. Blended learning is the most popular format.

I believe that the need for different kinds of adult education services will increase. Careers are becoming more and more fragmented while the pressure to upgrade competence alongside working is increasing. Those of us who are still within the framework of working life and involved in JAMK activities in 25 years’ time, i.e., in 2040, will witness a change comparable in size to that introduced by the Internet in the 1990s. Perhaps someone will then extract this old rector’s column from the archives and have a good laugh. “They did not have the sense to make changes faster back then.”