Published on December 21, 2023
Finland’s proactive approach to digital advancement is evident in several ways. They were one of the first EU countries to make a national strategy about artificial intelligence back in 2017. They wanted Finland to be the best in digital governance. And guess what? They’re aiming to rule the metaverse world by 2035! For that, they outlined a detailed strategy called ‘Metaverse Initiative by the Finnish Ecosystem: Virtual Potential into Real-World Impact.’
That’s like a whole new digital universe they want to conquer. All of this tells us how serious the Finnish government is about being number one in everything digital.
And they’ve done a wonderful job, as seen by different international reports. The Finnish government’s dedication to digital leadership is evident, reflected in the country’s top ranking in the 2022 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) among EU Member States. Finland particularly excels in indicators measuring human capital related to digital skills.
Why is that?
I believe what sets Finland apart is its high percentage of employed individuals working in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) roles, surpassing the EU average (7.4% against 4.5%.)
Additionally, the number of ICT graduates and the proportion of companies offering ICT training to their employees in Finland are notably higher compared to other EU countries.
When it comes to how many people know about technology basics, Finland shines there too. Around 79% of the people there have a good grasp of basic digital skills, way more than the average in the EU, which is only about 54%.
This high level of proficiency across the population shows Finland’s commitment to equipping its citizens with essential digital abilities, contributing to its leadership within the EU and the world.
The reality across the EU and Finland
The truth is that many people still lack the fundamental digital skills required, even though most jobs demand them.
The EU’s plan (outlined in the Path to the Digital Decade) sets an ambitious goal for 2030: ensuring at least 80% of citizens possess basic digital skills.
One of the key objectives is to significantly boost the number of ICT specialists employed in the EU, aiming for at least 20 million by 2030 (compared to 8.9 million back in 2021.)
But to reach that goal, things need to speed up. Only Sweden and Finland have the highest percentage of people working in these tech jobs – Sweden with 8% and Finland with 7.4%.
Additionally, Finland shines in terms of digitalization among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A remarkable 82% of Finnish SMEs showcase a basic level of digital intensity, indicating a strong embrace of digital tools and technologies.
So, while there’s a lot of work to do across the EU to get everyone up to speed with digital skills, countries like Finland are leading the way in getting more people skilled in tech and helping businesses go digital.
The vision of Finlands Digital Compass
What good is offering all services possible online if people don’t use them or don’t know how to use them?
Having all public services available online is great, but not enough.
There are reasons for this—some might find offline services good enough, some online services can be tricky to navigate, and there’s a real issue with lacking digital skills.
Digital skills are a big deal because they’re the backbone of how we function in the modern world. In many jobs today, being savvy with digital tools is just as essential as everyday life skills.
Workplaces expect employees to be pretty tech-savvy, especially as our reliance on the internet and tech keeps growing. Without solid digital skills, innovation takes a hit, and staying competitive becomes tough…even for developed countries.
It’s not just about work, though; everyday life demands digital skills, too.
That’s why Finland’s government is putting a lot of focus on transitioning to a more digital society.
They’ve come up with this thing called ‘A Digital Compass.’ It’s like a roadmap that guides Finland through its digital transformation.
The idea is to build a Finland that’s not just tech-savvy but also attractive, competitive, and thriving. To make this happen, they’re aiming for innovative businesses (of course) but with a huge focus on top-notch education and digital skills.
They want businesses to be creative and successful, citizens to have good digital education, easy-to-use public services, and safe internet and tech.
Countries like Finland are leading the charge by making sure everyone’s on board with their digital transformation.
The goal is clear: Finland wants to be at the forefront of the digital game, and they’re doing some serious planning to make it a reality.
About the Author
Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.
He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.
After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.
He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.
As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.
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