Universities of the Future was invited to host a workshop at a leadership seminar organized by the Finnish scouts – “The Leadership Fires”. The event was held in the woods of Evo, a two-hour drive from the Finnish capital, under blue skies. No power points, no hiding behind computers. Altogether three thousand people, mostly scouts, but also 600 others interested in leadership, spent their weekend listening to talks, reflecting on their learnings, and simply enjoying the Finnish nature. The impressive list of speakers and hosts included Alexander Stubb, the vice-president of the European Investment Bank, and Kati Riikonen, head of industry at Google, as well as a national conciliator, and a professor from Aalto University. All these people were giving their time for free, creating an affordable yet high-quality leadership seminar, in which people from teens to experienced executives would end up in the same workgroups reflecting on issues relevant to both.

 

The designated spot for the workshop – no need for the cover, as weather turned out to be favorable.

The Universities of the Future workshop had a 90 minutes timeslot on Saturday morning. Named “The Bucket list of your own learning”, it aimed to support participants in building their own paths for lifelong learning. The concept proved popular – the workshop got full within the first day of sign-ups. It was wonderful to see how, among many other activities run by well-known people, the theme of lifelong learning was seen as crucial to many different age groups, as the participants ranged from under 20 to over 50.

 

The first part of the workshop began with a presentation on the UoF project and its objectives, focusing on what lifelong, but also life-wide, learning is, and why it is important at a time of fast transformation of work brought by increasing digitalization. Next were the consortium’s research efforts – what skills are sought after, including both transferrable and discipline-specific skills, and what are the different ways to learn, from mentoring, to peer-to-peer learning, to top tier university MOOCs. The results sparked discussion around the different opportunities for re-skilling and up-skilling. It was noted, that the possibilities vary greatly between different fields. The more experienced participants seemed to value peer-to-peer learning as a great way to fill gaps that exist informal systems.

The second part of the workshop started with getting into the mood by reflecting on one’s own learning path so far, the most important skills learned from school, as well as from other walks of life. Finally, it was time to identify dreams and turn them into actionable targets – something that a person can start working on concretely. The participants paired up to put into words what and how they need to and can learn to achieve those dreams, resulting in lively conversations.

We at Universities of the Future suggest that you do the same: that you reflect on what you want to learn. In a world where there are endless possibilities for learning, especially in a country like Finland, it is crucial to identify what skills one needs to learn to achieve one’s own goals. The opportunities exist and are much easier to find when you know what you are looking for.

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