TEK (Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland) has published its list of 18 goals for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The goals are grouped under three main headings: sustainable growth, expertise, and high-quality work life that promotes well-being.
We have also gathered a list of TEK members who are running as candidates. Find your TEK candidate easily here.
Why does TEK have its own parliamentary election goals when TEK cannot run as a candidate in the elections, Juhani Nokela, Director of Public Affairs?
“We want to incorporate our views into the debate on how Finland should be developed. The goals are the same as the ones we want to see in the upcoming government program. If we can get the goals included in the government program, the chances of them becoming a reality are much greater than if they were not included in the government program.”
Where do the goals come from?
“The goals have been developed through discussions between TEK’s representative bodies, such as the Board and the committees appointed by the Board, as well as the TEK office, or our experts. The goals have a long history, and not all goals are reinvented every four years.”
Who decides which goals to include?
“The goals have been approved by the TEK Board.”
Which of the goals is the most important?
“The goals change with the times, and the one that seems to be the most important now is increasing spending on research, development and innovation so that they would be equal to four percent of Finland’s GDP by 2030. All the parties in the parliament are committed to this as well, so we believe it will become a reality.”
Why four percent?
“Four percent is a realistic level, based on international comparisons. In the EU, the level is three percent, and we want to be realistic, but also ambitious.”
How much will it cost to achieve this goal, and where will the money come from?
“One third comes from public funding, and two thirds from private funding. The need for public funding is approximately 200 million euros per year.”
The TEK Magazine presents the full list, complete with Juhani Nokela’s detailed comments on how to reach each goal, how much reaching it would cost, and where the money would come from.
The first and most important goal is mentioned above. Here are the rest of the goals.
2) Making Finland a superpower of clean energy
“We need a reform to the Nuclear Energy Act to allow the use of small modular reactors, for example. We also need to make the various permit processes more fluent. There are no significant direct cost implications related to this goal, as it will attract private, clean industry investments to Finland.”
3) Moving purposefully towards a circular economy
“We can achieve this goal by, for example, supporting universities in creating new study modules that would include learning outcomes related to circular economy. This kind of education reform does not necessarily require more money.”
4) Reforming taxation to support work and growth by shifting its focus from work to consumption
“Basically, the taxation for all income groups should be reduced by the same percentage, 0.5 percentage points per year, between 2023 and 2027. The aim is a cost-neutral tax reform, where the reduction in tax revenue would be partly offset by the employment gains that tax cuts have been shown to generate. In addition, environmental and emissions taxes should be increased. Consumption taxes may also be raised if necessary.”
5) Increasing the participation of private persons in capital investment activities
The participation of households in capital investment activities should be made possible through, for example, new private funds that would allow all citizens, not just investment experts, to participate in financing promising early-stage companies. The funds should be implemented in such a way that citizens could make investments through a share savings account. This would be financed by the investors themselves.”
6) Strengthening digitalization in Finnish society
“We now have a shortage of cybersecurity experts, for example. The skills demand in this field is also growing faster than the admissions quotas of educational institutions. This means that the number of students admitted to this field each year needs to be increased. The increased costs would be covered by tax revenues.”
7) Increasing funding for higher education institutions to increase the number of students admitted each year, especially in fields with a skills shortage
“The Vision for Higher Education and Research in Finland 2030 includes a goal where 50 percent of the age group in Finland would have a higher education degree by 2030. In order to reach this goal, the state would have to invest an additional 190 million euros in education each year. Pretty much all fields of technology are suffering from a shortage of skilled workers. The quickest and most cost-effective way to increase the number of higher education graduates is by focusing on places where teachers and degree programs already exist.”
8) Ensuring a smooth and high-quality learning experience for more people
“Being physically present and together with others is important – especially at the start of one’s studies. Remote studying should also be possible later on. Students don’t see hybrid studies as meaningful. Teaching must be organized clearly either remotely or in person. There are no cost implications related to this.”
9) Establishing a skills account and improving opportunities for skills development in working life
“The skills account is based on a similar idea as the lunch benefit. The employer and the employee could deposit money into this account and use it to purchase training. The sum could be a thousand euros a year, for example, which is what short training courses currently cost. Employees could also save money for longer training courses. The state could contribute to the system through taxation, for example. We have not calculated the costs of this goal.”
10) Raising students’ mathematical skills back to their previous, excellent level
“There should be more after-school clubs for those interested in natural sciences, mathematics and technology. In addition, further training should be provided for early childhood educators, teachers and guidance counsellors. After-school clubs should be incorporated into municipal funding, as municipalities have the resources for this kind of activity. Employers already have the funding for further training, it should just be allocated in a different way.”
11) Increasing the immigration of international experts through fair working conditions
“People need to be paid the same salary for the same work. We have seen cases where an international expert is constantly being paid a trainee-level wage. Fortunately, this is not very common. Labor immigration could be promoted by increasing the number of English-language schools and day-care places in growth centers. Immigrants also need to be given the possibility to study Finnish and/or Swedish alongside their work. The money spent on this goal would be paid back in the form of increased tax revenue as we attract more foreign talent to Finland.”
12) Increasing the number of international students and helping them find employment in Finland
“There is a shortage of skilled workers in Finland, but it is difficult for many international students to find a job after graduation. If a student from outside the EU does their master’s thesis directly for an employer, it approximately quadruples their likelihood to find high-quality employment. This should become the norm, and it would not cost anything, but would rather increase income tax revenue.”
13) Increasing the possibilities for local bargaining through collective agreements and collective bargaining agreements
“This would require a legislative change. Local bargaining can also be made possible for unorganized companies under the same conditions as for organized companies. We must also make sure that any disputes that may arise over the bargaining can be addressed by giving employee organizations the right to bring action, for example. This would cost next to nothing.”
14) Making it possible to insure work done both as an entrepreneur and an employee at the same time
“Less than five percent of TEK members work simultaneously as entrepreneurs and employees, but the number is growing. Simultaneous insurance is not possible at the moment, and something should be done about it. The cost implications are still unclear, but the idea is of course that the insured people would pay for their insurances, as is the case for employees.”
15) Making the recruitment of a company’s first employees easier
“Many sole entrepreneurs consider hiring an employee, but they have not done so because they feel it is expensive and risky. We need to lower this risk with a recruitment subsidy that would go beyond just supporting the hiring of the first employee. We have not calculated the cost implications of this goal.”
16) Making Finnish work life the most equal in the world
“There are no sanctions for underpayment, for example. There should be. We also need to draw up a detailed program of measures to reduce gender bias in the labor market, impose sanctions on breaches and negligence of equality, and eradicate harassment and discrimination in the workplace. There are no direct cost implications related to this goal, but it may lead to indirect costs, such as having to increase the resources of courts of law.”
17) Expanding pay transparency
“This would help eliminate unjustified pay gaps. These gaps should not be allowed, as they are unequal and unjust. According to our knowledge, unjustified pay gaps unfortunately still exist. This would impose costs on employers who have benefited from paying lower wages in the past.”
18) Improving mental health services during studies and working life
“A cost-effective solution would be to increase easily accessible services, such as brief therapy and peer support groups. For example, the “Therapy Guarantee” citizens’ initiative promoted similar issues more broadly, with an estimated cost of around 35 million euros. On the other hand, it was also estimated that faster treatment of mental illnesses could save the society up to 340 million euros a year.”
Get to know TEK members who are candidates in the parliamentary elections
The same goal for nearly 60 years
TEK and one of its predecessor organizations, Suomen teknillinen seura (STS, “Finnish technological society”), have been campaigning for increased spending on research, development and innovation (RDI) for almost 60 years.
This information can be found in Juhana Aunesluoma’s 2004 book on the history of TEK, Nykyaikaa rakentamassa (“Building the Present”).
In 1965, STS began to demand an allocation to be made to the state budget to support industrial research. In the mid-1960s, Finland spent only around 0.3–0.5 percent of its GDP on research and development, while the percentage was considerably higher in other similar countries. The public sector accounted for about a third of the spending, and already back then, STS’s key demand was to make a substantial increase to public investment.
The book says that “Following a discussion in the Technical Committee, the STS Board appointed a separate Technical Research Committee in April 1965”.
The committee continued its work, discussions and proposals turned into a plan, and in December 1965, STS made a proposal to the government’s Economic Council that the government should urgently set up a system of research contracts to support the research conducted by industrial institutions. An appropriation should be allocated or a special fund established for this purpose.
The proposal was passed by the Economic Council immediately, the officials at the Ministry of Trade and Industry drafted a law for the development of industrial research already in the spring of 1966, and “thus the Finnish research and funding model between the private and public sectors was born.”