A man and a phone. Photo: Matti Pyykkö

Digital skills improve quality of life and employment opportunities

The City of Helsinki organises digital skills courses aimed at improving the employment opportunities and quality of life of the customers of the city’s employment services. The need for digital skills training emerged especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many services closed down completely or went online. However, not everyone in the city has access to digital services due to lack of skills or money. The Digital Working Life project was started in February 2022 to develop the digital skills of city residents.

“It is important for the City of Helsinki to support all the measures that help increase the likelihood of Helsinki residents finding employment. When people get jobs, well-being also increases. At the same time, we want to have a skilled workforce in the city for the needs of companies, and digital skills are a key factor in this,” says Annukka Sorjonen, Service Manager for Immigration and Employment Affairs at the City of Helsinki.

What is new is the fact that learning digital skills is now linked to the daily life of individuals. Participants can borrow a smartphone for the duration of the course, which they can take home to continue their studies outside the classroom.

“Past experience has shown that people quickly forget what they have learned if they have no device at home to practice and maintain their digital skills. Therefore, in order to ensure that the development of digital skills does not rely on the course alone, participants who successfully complete the course will receive a smartphone free of charge,” says Project Planner Anni Rolig.

Digital Working Life project organised in several languages

The Digital Working Life project has been developed by listening to the needs of customers. For this reason, courses are also organised in a targeted manner for those who do not yet speak Finnish or speak it poorly. The courses are taught in Finnish, Somali, Arabic and English. In addition, other teaching languages will be arranged as necessary. The project also takes into account the need for women-only services and organises women-only groups. For example, the first Somali-speaking group for women will start in July. Through these means, the project can better achieve its goal of improving the employment opportunities of participants. 

The personal employment experts of Helsinki Employment Services direct customers to the courses. Course participants will acquire the skills to fulfil the job search obligation and make notifications through the online service.

“We really want the course to be useful. We have also taken into consideration the job search obligations of the new service model. During the course, participants will learn the digital skills necessary for applying for a job – for example, how to send a job application by email and how to use the TE Services E-services,” Rolig says.

The Digital Working Life project is funded by the City of Helsinki and the European Social Fund. The project is carried out in 2022 and 2023 and funded as part of the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.