FITech Network University gained extra time for free ICT courses
By decision of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the courses open to all in the field of information and communication technology will be continued until the end of 2023.
The Ministry of Education and Culture has given additional time for the ICT project of the FITech Network University. In other words, the ICT courses offered by the Finnish universities of technology can be completed through FITech free of charge for two years longer than intended, as according to the original funding decision the project would have finished at the end of this year.
The studies will continue to be arranged during the universities’ autumn, spring and summer terms. In addition, there will be courses with a continuous application period that can be taken independently according to the student’s own schedule. The study offering includes advanced courses for ICT experts as well as beginner and intermediate level studies for persons planning a career change and professionals of other fields. Some of the courses are also suitable for high school students.
IT skills are needed in many fields
The FITech ICT project coordinated by Aalto University was launched in 2019 after it had received funding of over EUR 10 million from the Ministry of Education and Culture. The aim of the project has been to address the national shortage of experts and competence in the ICT sector by opening a selection of university degree courses free of charge to all interested parties.
The need for continuous learning is growing, and thanks to the additional time, FITech studies can be offered to an increasing number of interested students.
‘At the beginning of the project period, it took some time to shape the study offering and to develop good practices. The activities are now well established, but there is still a shortage of experts. In addition to the actual ICT sector, IT expertise is needed in other fields, too. That is why we applied for an extension for the project’, says Project Manager Katri Ventus.
Rasmus Roiha, Managing Director of Finnish Software and E-Business Association, which represents the software industry, says that growth in the sector will be so strong that in the next few years as many as 10,000 more experts will be needed in the sector. Continuous learning is one way of solving the shortage of experts.
‘Those who study something new while also using their existing expertise are one of the facilitators of growth in the sector. They are part of the solution that will make up for the shortage of experts’, says Roiha.
The development of digital expertise is also topical in companies in the technology industry, and the additional time granted for FITech’s ICT project responds to a real need, says Mervi Karikorpi, Head of EU Innovation & Industrial Policy at Technology Industries of Finland.
‘The need for expertise related to digitalisation is not decreasing – quite the contrary. Digitalisation enables new services, business models and technologies. The importance of continuous learning and the development of expertise of those already in employment is further emphasised. From the perspective of competence and expert needs of the technology industry alone, there would be a need for a joint ICT competence programme continuing until 2030.’
Easier application process, online courses
Among other things, the FITech ICT project has developed the availability of low-threshold online courses open to all and explored ways in which adult students can best learn alongside work.
‘Accessibility is important to us: we have simplified the application process and paid attention to clear course descriptions. Several courses are available online and they are not tied to a specific time or place, so that adult learners can plan their own schedule as far as possible’, Katri Ventus says.
In addition to ICT courses, studies on energy storage and conversion and 5G technology will be offered until the end of 2023. It is possible to complete minor subject studies intended for degree students in the FITech Turku project until the end of the current academic year.
Photo: Aki-Pekka Sinikoski/Aalto University