“We know that technology is advancing rapidly, but the development of people and social systems is slower. How can we act wisely in the midst of this technological transition?”
Jari Kaivo-oja 13.10.2012

What is the aim of the change?

A flexible and agile Finland

To succeed in the future, Finland must have an agile national economy, since transformations in the world are difficult to foresee. Risk management alone will be of no avail – what is required is a means of ensuring Finland’s ability to succeed, regardless of surprises. The key task of the public sector is to build an operating environment that helps in capitalising on rapid change and uncertainty.

A diverse range of uncertainty factors exists: the political situation in China and Russia, the spread of political populism, stagnating economic growth in Western countries and weaknesses in the international financial system. All of these are resulting in major instability. Other factors hampering futures analysis include climate change, increasing inequality between people, global migration and the increasing number of ‘global nomads’, i.e. highly mobile people who travel from one country to another on a regular basis. Huge advances in technology, such as new forms of energy production including cold fusion, and singularity in information technology, i.e. the capacity of computers to make new computers, could change the entire economic system.

Diversity and renewal as a buffer in the face of change

Finland needs to be capable of building a diverse mosaic in terms of its economic structure, since investing in special areas of expertise would represent too bold a gamble. Enterprises with a lower degree of differentiation would form the basis of a solid economy. They would also serve neighbouring markets and serve as buffers against sudden movements in the global economy and changes in demand.

Economic growth requires a base of unique and diverse exports. As a small country, Finland must be at the right place at the right time, in order to capitalise on rapid economic growth phenomena. To benefit from global resources and competencies, we must assume an active role in value networks. We will achieve a key role by offering something unique that is hard to copy.

Together, the public and private sectors – ppp-partnership - can produce services for the world markets that are difficult to replicate. An innovation strategy covering the entire country and the government foresight work are examples of possible competence-based export products. Finland could also serve as a forerunner in producing reliable crowd funding services, accumulating capital on the Internet for Finnish SMEs and offering the same services to Russian innovation companies.

In the future, flexible regulation may become a key competitive asset, since all countries will be expected to show increasing resilience, i.e. persistent adaptation. Finland has a good starting point, because we are a small, agile country able to react quickly. If we develop our regulations to support flexible and rapid decision-making, we may even become the world’s fastest-adapting operating environment.

Flexibility for employees and support for entrepreneurs

People experience wellbeing when able to capitalise on personal strengths. An individual must be able to move from one competence and job to another, according to changing conditions and personal wishes. More possibilities and incentives must be provided for self-employment. Although the Finnish educational system has succeeded well in global comparisons, it requires partial reform. We must be able to train multiskilled, active individuals able to adapt to different roles, instead of experts specialising in narrow niche areas. Continuous renewal calls for closer cooperation between working life and education and training. Support for entrepreneurship also needs structural changes. Fast changes demand fast decision making and risk taking from entrepreneurs. Through risk taking, we can gain considerable benefits for the national economy. Safety networks should be constructed for risk venturing, networks that will not punish an active entrepreneur with the loss of social benefits. Part-time entrepreneurship would be a viable solution that would facilitate entrepreneurship engaged in alongside paid work. To avoid burdening individuals with the task of creating all of the flexibility required, structures must be renewed. This, in turn, will require the renewal of corporate and labour legislation.

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