Lifelong learning. Competence renewal. Investing in learning. These slogans are everywhere. But do you realise how relevant they are to you too? The worldwide phenomenon of aging populations – particularly in developing countries – means changes for all of us.
This trend is developing particularly fast in the EU. According to numerous statistics, the average age in the EU countries will be 48 in 2050. In Europe, as much as 35% of the population will be over 65 years of age in 2050. People born in the 21st century are expected to live in average more than 80 years. Put simply, people are just living longer and working longer nowadays.
Assuming this trend continues, you and I will continue to work for many years ahead – approximately until we are in in our 70s. And our children will live in a world where the current pension schemes will likely be obsolete. It’s very likely they will never be able to retire at all!
Constant learning will enable success
So, if we are expected to work until we are 70, who will be responsible for our personal competitiveness and the renewal of our competences? How will we be able to ensure both our personal renewal and the global success of Finnish companies?
The answer? We will all need to take personal responsibility for our development in order to be able to respond to the ever-changing demands of working life. People who are curious by nature and have a hunger for learning will be the ones who continue to have successful careers.
Finland: on the right path, just a bit slow to wake up
Post-graduate education is still rather the exception than the rule in Finland, but the situation is changing. To speed up this development there should be more incentives – such as tax reliefs – to encourage people to get further professional education or study while working. In Denmark, for example, the costs of obtaining a second university degree are tax refundable, and in Germany all professional education is free of VAT.
In May 2017, the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland issued a new advanced ruling that MBA education provided by Henley Business School in Finland is exempted from VAT – just like it is in rest almost all other European countries. This ruling is a result of our years-long’ effort, and it is absolutely the right decision.
The most important factor for the ruling in our favour is that unlike other Finnish MBAs, the Henley MBA is officially a higher academic degree and should have the same status as other university degrees. The majority of Henley’s MBA clients are funding the studies by themselves. If people investing in a new postgraduate degree are punished with a €10,000 VAT cost, there is a risk that they will move away from Finland to other European countries where the same degree is VAT exempt. It’s worth bearing in mind that the market for global education is very competitive between different academic institutions.
Now it’s time for the government of Finland to think about how to develop further incentives for postgraduate education. We have to be bold in order to ensure every possible way towards our success on the global market.