Getting your first degree or diploma is only a start for the continuous development of competence. There are plenty of opportunities for developing your competence, but it all starts from your own willingness and interest in learning new things and in developing in your work. You can also gain competence in other places than school and work. It is important to be able to identify and put your competence in words in all career planning and competence development. It is just as important to monitor the development in your professional field and to identify your strengths and areas to develop.

There are many opportunities to develop your competence. It is possible to attain basic, vocational and specializing vocational qualifications in vocational education. In addition to qualifying education, both universities of applied science and universities offer open-for-all academic tuition as well as programmes in continuing education. Workers’ institutes, folk high schools and other institutes of free education have a broad training offering for professional development. In addition, many trade unions offer their members training and career counselling, and you can find information about them on your union’s website.

Studying while working

Half of young people have studied in an institution of higher education and almost all of the other half have studied on the vocational secondary level. However, studying is not over when you graduate. Developing your competence is an important part of working life. It adds to the meaningfulness of work and creates opportunities to change jobs or occupation. Getting trained is therefore an excellent way to ensure your career development and better pay.

More and more jobs require at least the secondary level vocational education.

A good starting point for the development of your competence is personnel training arranged by the employer. We recommend you to bring your own ideas about training up e.g. in performance appraisals. Your interest in learning something new can give the employer a positive message also with regard to career development. Furthermore, it is the employer’s duty to make sure that employees have sufficient competence to cope with their duties as well as to compile a plan on the personnel training.

It is often possible to partake in short trainings outside of workplace when you’re working. If, for example, taking part in a course requires absence from work, you should talk to your supervisor about the opportunity to study during the working hours. The collective labour agreement or other workplace-specific agreements might also include paragraphs on studying during working hours.


In future, working life will become more periodic – more and more people will have made a career change at least once. This means that you don’t have to find an occupation for yourself to last a lifetime. The question to ask yourself while pondering on the different career options is no longer “what will I be when I grow up?” but “what’s next?”.

Retraining does not necessarily have to mean a change of industry, it can just as well involve extending your competence.

When considering a career change, think about the following:

  • What are your interests and strengths?
  • What kind of a job fits your situation in life?
  • Are you looking for regular employment or on-call work?
  • What kind of working hours do you want?
  • Can the pay vary due to e.g. number of shifts and accrued allowances?
  • What kind of career choices are there between your current job and your dream job?
  • What competence have you already gained? What skills could need an update?
  • Does getting your dream job require further training or retraining?