Misty view of lifelong education
On the forum of adult education, held at 15th of October the problems and ideas for solutions of the sphere were talked about. As shown in the audit of the National Audit Office from September the field is governed and operated as if in the mist. Although there is European funds in the sum of 2 billion EEK foreseen for use, there is no common share vision, aims and understanding, how to spend it to gain the most.
For now there are 25 different measures dealing with lifelong education, 15 different institutions taking different steps and on top of this the funds from Ministry of Education covers just 60% of the money necessary. The rest 40% is covered by the funds of Ministry of Agriculture, Internal Affairs, Environment and also Government Office, who act is if in the bubble of their own. The result is separate and unconnected row of measures and nowhere to get a whole picture.
What we need, is systematic thinking of policies.
Economy is a social system with work allocation, level of which is determined by the competitiveness of enterprises. In this system act both entrepreneurs and employees. Just few years ago in this system actively participated more than 600 000 people, but the number has reduced close to 500 000. That leaves almost 100 000 out of the system. The main reason is incapability to compete successfully due to insufficient training – the precondition for the competitiveness of a enterprise is the level of training both for employer and employee. On broader scale this concerns also the level of public sector, scientist etc.
The level of training can be defined as education. Education is the ability of a person to understand the laws of society and nature and the conceptual connections between actions and phenomena.
Hence it is particularly important that while aspiring from industrial manufacturing towards knowledge-intensive economic model not just to find common goals, but to change the principles by which the training of people takes place both in formal education and adult education. Estonia acting in the economic sphere of European Union may not allow the prevailing of ongoing situation where the price convergence goes up, but the lion share of people in export sector work at most simple tasks, which does not pay in the world more than 8000-10 000 EEK in a month and for which the competition is in Indonesia, China or Vietnam.
Our only chance is to raise the level of training and cooperation of Estonian people as to create new jobs to enable better pay. Estonia's chance is to learn to produce and export goods and offer knowledge-intense services that others cannot do. Now how to achieve that?
The old saying goes that a barrel can be filled up only to the level of the shortest board. This means that no progress can be achieved before synchronised changes in all the important fields adjacent to the problematic area.
For example there is a plan of action Made in Estonia in the Ministry of Economy which foresees the luring of foreign investments to the state in six areas important to Estonia. These are:
1) information and communication technology
2) business and finance services
3) transport and logistics
4) mechanical and metallurgical industry
5) industry of electronics and electrical equipment
6) wood and wood industry
It would make sense to see the same priorities in the planning of adult education. Otherwise it might end up with lured investor leaving as there is not sufficient workforce with proper training.
Another possibility is to plan the adult education in the view of three challenges/possibilities before Estonia and also whole Europe. These are:
1) Aging (e.g. create in society capability of establishing social networks, lessen the digital gap of older generation, advance e-learning etc.)
2) The health care and wellness services (if we know of the growing demand in the world, we can strengthen the readiness and skills of our people to be put in use in different areas)
3) ‘Green economy’ (we create possibilities for self-education to entrepreneurs and more broadly in society to create understanding of the opportunities springing from spread of ‘green thinking’, i.e. in tourism, energy field and waste management)
Does Estonia have the opportunity to raise artificial insemination export services?
On Friday, 13 March, a businesslike group of enterprising people assembled at the Development Fund for a round-table discussion on reproductive medicine (artificial insemination) focusing on opportunities for exporting the service. An informal exchange of ideas led to the following conclusions:
The cost of artificial insemination is significantly lower in Estonia than elsewhere and therefore we are quite attractive as providers of this service for other countries.
The overall success rate of an artificial insemination procedure is rather low (an average of 30%), moving on to other clinics is common for clients, subsequent to a failed attempt.
In Estonia, the success rate is higher, amounting to 37%. Andres Salumets (Nova Vita Kliinik) suggested that one of the secrets behind the success was the use of better biosensors for selecting embryos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosensor).
Estonia has a geographic advantage since we are located just 350 kilometres from St. Petersburg and its 6 million inhabitants. It was concluded that if a Russian patient was to choose between Finland and Estonia, he or she would rather come to Estonia. It was also highlighted that in specific cases patients had been refused an Estonian visa. In cross-border medical co-operation good trust-based interpersonal relations between doctors are essential and, consequently, the Baltic markets are the most approachable at the moment.
A component in the artificial insemination value chain is prenatal diagnostics. An Estonian company offering such a service, Asper Biotech, estimates the potential market value of genetic testing to be approximately 3 billion euros a year. This is an area with multiple barriers that require smart solutions. If, for example, Russian law does not allow gene samples to be taken out of the country, one might develop a local network of co-operation partners or set up a testing centre in the target market. A locally tested patient can then freely come to Estonia to receive the service in one of the clinics. For example, Nova Vita Kliinik is already now performing some 500 embryo transfers per year. All in all, Estonian clinics annually service some 1500 patients, of whom 500 come from Estonia while others are foreigners. Hence, already now two-thirds of the service is actually exported and since opportunities for increasing capacities do exist, it is exactly the right moment to undertake something together for the sake of growth.
What are the things that we in Estonia could do better than others?
While competing with other countries it is evidently not sufficient to just offer a cheaper service. The determining factor will be the skills and the knowledge that we possess locally and how efficiently we can manage the process of offering the service.
During the discussion the following promising areas to be jointly developed were highlighted:
- prenatal diagnostics, multi-aspect testing;