Finland to enhance Europeans’ digital skills – Elements of AI online course to be launched in EU countries

Finland to enhance Europeans’ digital skills – Elements of AI online course to be launched in EU countries

Finland will make the Elements of AI online course available to EU citizens in 2020–2021. The objective is to train one per cent of EU citizens in the basics of artificial intelligence, thereby strengthening digital competence within the EU. The course will be published first in Latvia on 6 May 2020.

The Elements of AI is a free online course designed and organised by the University of Helsinki and Reaktor, a Finnish technology company. The objective of the course is to encourage everyone, regardless of age or educational background, to learn the basics of artificial intelligence.

“The transformation of work and digitalisation require employees to continuously develop their skills. During the current coronavirus crisis, this need is further emphasised. Finland's strengths include both artificial intelligence expertise and equal access to education. We are now sharing our expertise with all EU countries and want to support Europeans’ lifelong learning throughout their careers,” says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.

“Artificial intelligence is one of the key success factors in the future, enabling sustainable growth and competitiveness in the European Union. Investments in digitalisation are particularly needed when we build a way out of the coronavirus crisis. The EU should strive to become a pioneer in the field of digitalisation, and this course contributes to these efforts,” says Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä.

Local partners to support the launch of the course

Local partners will support the launch of the course in each EU Member State. The Finnish missions in EU Member States will be closely involved in the work for making the Finnish course known in each country.

“Education is something that Finland is known for abroad. We now want to promote the opportunities of all Europeans to learn future skills. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish missions abroad are very much looking forward to being involved in this important project,” says Counsellor Ville Cantell from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

In each country, there will be an academic partner that will provide students with support in completing the course and grant credits for the course.

“The University of Helsinki wants to make its expertise available to the whole of Europe, and as artificial intelligence research is highly advanced in Finland, it was natural for us to make AI teaching accessible for all,” says Jari Niemelä, Rector of the University of Helsinki. “It is great that we can collaborate with European universities and other actors in such a concrete manner also in the prevailing exceptional situation.”

In addition, depending on the country, the project can have representatives of the public sector, organisations or companies marketing the course as partners.

“It is great to see how much positive feedback the Elements of AI course has received across Europe. In each country, we will build a network of partners that are committed to the common goal and with whom we will launch the course. It is a pleasure to play an important role in enabling the internationalisation of the expertise of Finnish universities, and the Elements of AI course is a concrete opening in this respect,” says Ville Valtonen from Reaktor Education.

Course will be made available in all official EU languages

The course will be made available in all the official EU languages. In addition to Latvian, the course is already available in Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, English, German and Norwegian. More than 400,000 students have already signed up for the course in the languages launched earlier. In May, the language selection will be supplemented with Hungarian. The schedule for further launches taking place during the summer and autumn will be specified later.

The initiative for offering the Elements of AI course to all EU countries was launched in the context of Finland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union (from 1 July to 31 December 2019). Utilising and developing the digital economy and artificial intelligence as well as investing in citizens' knowledge and skills were the priorities of Finland's Presidency in the Agenda for Sustainable Growth. The translations of the course materials are provided by the European Commission.

Inquiries:

Mika Niemelä, Director of Finance, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, [email protected], tel. +358 29 506 2135
Nina Alatalo, Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, [email protected], tel. +358 29 504 7171
Jenni Karjalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, [email protected], tel. +358 29 504 7224
Ville Cantell, Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, [email protected], tel. +358 295 351 847
Ville Valtonen, Managing Director, Reaktor Education, [email protected], tel. +358 50 323 7203
Teemu Roos, Professor, University of Helsinki, [email protected], tel. +358 44 523 1238
Jari Niemelä, Rector, University of Helsinki, [email protected], tel. +358 29 412 2210 (secretary)