Digitalisation 2018: The growth rate challenges the availability of professionals and the capacity of the educational system

The digitalisation of the services relevant to the economic structure of the region is progressing at a good and steady rate. Increased numbers of business locations and employees as well as higher turnovers have been seen year by year in digital services sectors. The number of vacancies listed has increased. In 2016, companies in the field employed some 7,000 people (+6.8% over the previous year). The business operations of almost 900 companies in the digital sector generated a turnover effect of MEUR 1,200 in the Tampere Region. The number of business locations increased by 3.3% and turnover increased by 6.0% in the latest statistical year of 2016. Digital services fields are formed by the following business areas: software and consultation, information services, telecommunications, and radio and television broadcasting (TOL 61–63).

The demand for experts in digital fields has increased in the Tampere Region, and there is fierce competition for professionals in the hottest areas of expertise on the labour market. Many employers in the ICT field have reported recruitment difficulties which, in the worst case scenario, can lead to the reduction of order capacity. The Aamulehti newspaper published a pointed headline stating that “The ICT guru is the new stevedore of the labour market”. Graduate numbers among graduate students in science, mathematics and technology (STEM) are on the decline within the region, which is another indication of the draw and appeal of employment as the total admission numbers for degree studies have not decreased. An annual 2,200–3,000 students have graduated from the STEM degree programmes of the Tampere3 universities during this decade. The numbers were highest in 2010 and 2015.

This time, the proportion of those who took advanced mathematics in upper secondary school was included as a new indicator in the situational picture. The prevalence of these studies is indicative of the availability of future experts about five years from the moment at which the statistical data is collected – i.e. the end of upper secondary school studies. Advanced mathematics is a couple percentage points less common among upper secondary school students in the Tampere Region compared to other regions (2017: Tampere Region 40.1%, entire country 42.1%). The proportion of the Tampere Region has varied slightly fluctuating on both sides of 40%.

First commercial 5G network in the world to be constructed in the Tampere Region

The first GSM call ever was originally made in Tampere on 1 July 1991. The Tampere Region’s storied history with cellular phones gained a new milestone in June 2018 with the first 5G call from Tampere to Tallinn. The communication link was opened by Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner, Mayor of Tampere Lauri Lyly and CEO of Elisa Veli-Matti Mattila, and the call was answered in Tallinn by the Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson. The upcoming 5G mobile network in the Tampere Region will be the first commercial 5G network in the world. Initially, the network to be set up by Elisa will cover the municipal centres of Nokia, Ylöjärvi and Kangasala and the nearby areas, in addition to Tampere. (Smart Tampere, Aamulehti.)

In the future, 5G will make faster and more reliable connections possible. In addition to this, the new technology is an appealing test platform for those seeking to innovate new digital solutions. The 5G and smart city developments are also supported by the fact that 5G services can already be tested in the Nokia LTE test network environment in the district of Hervanta. The cloud-based Nokia Digital Automation Cloud LTE test network was opened at the end of 2017 and is available to businesses, universities and research facilities for trials. “What works today locally in Hervanta may be an essential element in a global solution of the future,” Business Tampere describes.

Digital accessibility is being developed across the region, which supports capabilities for various trade activities, networked services and social connectedness. Fast landline network connections have become more common, and new arrangements are planned within many municipalities. In the autumn of 2018, financial support can be applied for broadband construction in the sparsely-populated areas of Parkano, Sastamala and Vesilahti. The support will be focused on the planning and construction of a communications network and the provision of advanced communications services to end users.

The development of the digital infrastructure and related services supports the visions of the regional strategy for the Tampere Region, the region’s strategy for smart specialisation and the visions of the Smart Tampere programme. By improving the digital infrastructure, we can create the basic preconditions for faster and more reliable connections and remote service channels. Digitalisation is tightly linked to on-going structural changes in society, such as the social welfare and health care reform and, on an even higher level, the fourth industrial revolution of western societies, which is based on networking, digitalisation and a data-driven approach. More information on Industry 4.0 is available in the guest article by Dimecc Oy’s Harri Kulmala, for example.

The social welfare and health care sector and digitalisation – first-rate research and high expectations on savings

“There are lofty expectations for digitalisation and technology in the social welfare and health care sector. This is true in the Tampere Region, too, where health and wellness technology is one of the leading commercial fields. The region features plenty of technology companies and education in wellness technology, for example. Various digital and technological solutions developed for wellness services are also prevalent within the scope of projects carried out in the region. - - The Tampere Region features many potential fields that are applicable to the social welfare and health care sector, such as signal processing, virtual and augmented reality technologies, imaging, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, pattern recognition, information systems, data security, wireless data transfer (sensor technology), intelligent environments and situational awareness research.”

“Examples of development related to digitalisation and technology include the SMART Health and eHealth solutions and the KotiDigi project, which strives to substitute hospital care with home and remote care. The Tampere Region is also the first in the country to have developed and adopted an electronic innovation voucher, with health and wellness as one of the focus points in the application process. Among other ventures, the voucher has been used to support the development of Huoleti Oy’s application for increasing peer support for people with serious illnesses. Highlights of technological innovation also include the smart needle developed by Injeq Oy and the UKK Institute’s activity bracelet."

Quotes from the report Sosiaali- ja terveysalan tutkimus-, kehitys- ja innovaatiotoiminnan nykytila Pirkanmaalla – osaamisesta erottautumiseen (Piia Tienhaara, Council of Tampere Region 2018).

The goal of the national social welfare and health care reform is to improve the availability, reachability and equality of services. Digitalisation has been adopted as an essential tool for change. In future, information systems, smoothly-flowing data and new electronic service methods are intended to support both customers and social welfare and health care professionals alike even better than before, increasing the efficiency of operating methods. In addition to this, the aim is to use technological solutions to support citizens’ opportunities to maintain their operational capability and wellness. According to the MaakuntadigiVisio 2025 vision laid down by the Government, the social welfare and health care reform will involve the digitalisation of public administration and services in a new way, along with developing public administration as a uniform digital service platform that promotes the activities of residents, businesses and other communities.

There are high expectations for digitalisation in terms of the savings that can be achieved. For example, the Ministry of Finance has stated that the savings potential related to the social welfare and health care reform will be EUR 3–4.6 billion in the following decade. The majority of this is estimated to be generated by the effects of increasing the efficiency of the utilisation of information and technology.

The promotion of digitalisation in the context of services requires a more open market dialogue between the buyers and the companies in the field. The development of this dialogue and innovative procurements requires persistent efforts and resources. The savings will not be realised until sometime after a service has been implemented in practice.

Unfortunately, development funding provided by organisations, such as Business Finland, to digital service fields in the Tampere Region decreased both in absolute and relative terms in 2017. However, the comparison shows that in 2016 digital services fields received an exceptionally large amount of funding.