Piirroskuva jossa ihmishahmoja

Work life will soon demand more from us

News article

Future work life may be better than before, but you should be prepared for these changes.

The work of highly educated professionals in the field of technology will change in at least one major way. The amount of work will increase.

Highly educated professionals will also need to master an even more versatile set of skills in addition to specialised knowledge. These skills include customer understanding, cultural and interaction skills, ethical competence and an awareness of environmental issues.

This was revealed in a report commissioned by the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK. The report describes recent changes in the work of professionals, with a focus on highly educated professionals in the field of technology, and the future trends in the 2020s.

We can hardly overemphasise the importance of making Finland an interesting and attractive country to work in the eyes of the rest of the world.
- Teemu Hankamäki

The report entitled “Muuttuvan tietotyön aloitteentekijä – Tekniikan alojen korkeakoulutettujen muuttuva työ” sought to answer four questions.

The first question was, what are the key trends that have shaped expert jobs in recent years and what will they be in the next 5–10 years.

The second question looked at the current situation of highly educated tech professionals and what recent developments have led to this situation.

The third explored how the situation of tech professionals will change in the future.

The fourth looked at the best measures for promoting good work life for these professionals and the indicators and metrics that TEK could use in the future to monitor and evaluate the situation of its members and the tech community.

According to the report, the key trends in the upcoming years are digitalisation, internationalisation, the sustainability transition and the individualisation of life choices.

Each of these trends will also have its own impact on the work of highly educated tech professionals and their position in the job market.

Digitalisation means more work

Digitalisation, or the more widespread use of information technology, will improve the position of academic engineers and architects in the labour market.

According to the report, the key trends in the upcoming years are digitalisation, internationalisation, the sustainability transition and the individualisation of life choices.

The amount of work will increase as the need for professionals to design and develop new solutions grows. This will lead to a greater demand for labour and strengthen the labour market position of specialists working in these roles across the globe.

Jobs need to be filled by people, so students pursuing a university degree in technology can be fairly confident in finding a job after graduation.

According to the report, if the growth of expert jobs continues in the 2020s more or less at the same rate as it did in the last decade, the combined number of people working as professionals or managers in Finland would increase by about 100,000 by the year 2030. Of this number, about 75,000 could be professionals working in STEM fields, business and administration, and information and communication technology.

The businesses interviewed for the report emphasised the urgent need to promote work-based immigration.

According to TEK’s Labour Market Director Teemu Hankamäki, work-based immigration is certainly an opportunity and even a necessity for the success of Finland as a whole.

“We cannot find all the skills we need domestically, and there’s also a shortage of labour in some sectors. Most TEK members work in industries and companies where the operations and the market are global.”

Internationalisation will lead to more competition in the job market

Digitalisation will also affect the work of academic engineers and architects by allowing professionals to work and to have work done almost anywhere. This gives employees an opportunity to take control over their work and even their working hours.

Employers, on the other hand, can supervise work remotely and move work to different locations.

The report points out that the employment opportunities of academic engineers and architects do not depend only on the development of the Finnish labour market. The variety of job locations can also lead to a situation where multiple experts work as members of new, virtually linked communities.

An interesting observation is that the recruitment of international tech professionals to Finland and by Finnish companies does not pose a threat to Finnish professionals working in these fields, quite the opposite.

The reason for this is that if companies have a hard time recruiting international talent to Finland, the country’s appeal as an investment destination could fade and businesses will rather choose countries and regions where skilled labour is more easily available.

Hankamäki hopes that Finns would not take the appeal of Finland for granted, because it is not a permanent state of being.

“We can hardly overemphasise the importance of making Finland an interesting and attractive country to work in the eyes of the rest of the world. The very first thing we need to do is to make sure that as many of our international students as possible will stay in the country and find a job after graduation.”

Green transition will narrow the gender gap

According to the report, mitigating and adapting to climate change will have an even greater impact in the 2020s on the decisions that are made in workplaces and in society in general.

Changes in the system that are driven by the sustainability transition, or the so-called green transition, will require technological and business innovations. Highly educated tech professionals play an important role in producing these.

This will require new skills and competence from academic engineers and architects and systemic thinking where sustainability awareness is integrated even more strongly in all work-related decision-making.

The report argues that one of the indirect outcomes of climate change mitigation and adaption measures could be a narrowing of the current gender gap in specialist jobs in technology and a gradual reform of the working culture in tech industries, a culture that is still perceived as masculine.

“We are clearly headed in this direction. Of course, there are other factors at play here besides the green transition and environmental issues. For example, the proportion of women among university students has increased, and working cultures in general have become more flexible and there’s a lot more diversity in many ways,” says Hankamäki.

Individualisation presents a challenge to trade unions

The fourth trend shaping the future of expert jobs is individualisation.

According to the report, students pursuing a university degree in technology and graduates working in the field will have more diversified careers as our values and life choices become more individual.

This also means that a growing number of graduates will prioritise enjoyable and meaningful jobs over others and value the learning and development opportunities provided by the job or the opportunities offered by the employer to balance work and life.

This group believes that the financially secure organisational position of big, well-established companies and the significance of career progression are less and less relevant.

This individualisation trend also presents a challenge to the trade unions and other professional organisations representing tech professionals as they will need to find ways to consolidate the increasingly varied interests of their members in the future.

Hankamäki assures that TEK's interest promotion machinery is ready to take on the challenge.

“We need to keep up to speed when it comes to understanding our members’ needs and situations. I don’t think this will be a problem, because TEK is a community of its members, and throughout our existence, we've always managed to extensively promote their interests and provide a broad spectrum of services and benefits. In the past few years, we’ve focused especially on getting to know our members and their situations even better. Our members need and also expect individual, specific services, but also the promotion of their collective interests.”

Responsibility for upgrading skills shifts to individuals

​The four trends described above also affect the life of TEK members, because as work life changes rapidly, experts also have a greater need to upgrade their skills.

In the future, everyone will need to invest in growing their skills more than they do now.
- Juhani Nokela

One of the risks identified in the report is that, in the future, too much responsibility for upgrading skills will lie on the shoulders of the professionals themselves.

This can happen if employers neglect their training responsibilities in the intensifying global competition or if our society and universities do not take adequate strategic measures to this end.

These measures could include investments in new types of learning environments, the contents of education and implementation methods and the promotion of business-university collaboration and partnership.

Director of Public Affairs Juhani Nokela from the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK agrees with the report in that the need to upgrade skills will grow and TEK members will also need to reinvent themselves at a faster rate than now.

“Employers provide training on topics that they believe they need now and in the near future. But in terms of the employee’s career planning, this may not be sufficient.”

Nokela says that the programme of the recently elected government suggests that society will not be providing much support to the skills development of well-paid professionals.

“In the future, everyone will need to invest in growing their skills more than they do now.” 

How the report was created

The report entitled “Muuttuvan tietotyön aloitteentekijä – Tekniikan alojen korkeakoulutettujen muuttuva työ” was written last year by two authors from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health: Research Professor Tuomo Alasoini and Senior Specialist Titta Manninen, who has since changed jobs.

The report is based on an analysis of Finnish and international research and future scenario literature, various survey and statistical data and a number of expert interviews conducted in autumn 2021.

Download the report (in Finnish)