The Dynamic Transformation of the Finnish Innovation System
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Gerd Schienstock
Chapter 11: Polytechnic reform: A response to the learning economy
Kari Kekkonen 11.1 INTRODUCTION The economic historian Cameron (1995, p. 246) remarks that a less noticed feature of the progress of the 19th century, but not less remarkable than urbanization or the growth of the industrial workers or the increase of incomes, was the expansion of literacy and education. Now at the beginning of the 21st century, the discussion of the information society seems sometimes to suffer from the same characteristic. In the debate about knowledge creation, learning and education, basic and vocational education have been forgotten, they are some kind of blurred area. This chapter concerns the role of the education system as a part of the learning society.1 The main focus of this chapter is on the Finnish polytechnic reform; all parts of the education system are commented on in relation to it. The established polytechnic system is based on the former higher vocational colleges and it is defined as practically part of the dual higher education system, universities being the other part of the system. The second section of the chapter introduces the concept of the learning economy and a typology of the different kinds of approaches to vocational education. The third section illustrates the reform of the vocational educational system and analyses the policy goals of the 1990s reform. The state of the postreformed polytechnic system is described in the fourth section based on our empirical findings. The fifth section considers the current problems of the education system and the challenges in its development. 11.2 EDUCATION...
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