Work, study or both?

Nowadays working life demands new kinds of skills from all of us. In many cases there is even a need for new professional training and exam requirements. This is possible, too, for adults and there are benefits to make it feasible to learn more.


If you do not have any qualifications as of yet, or would like to acquire further ones, apprenticeship training (oppisopimus) is one possibility.

It is a fixed-term employment contract, in which an employer trains the employee. At least 80 per cent of the training takes place in the workplace and the remaining 20 per cent in an educational institution. This means some 1–4 days of theoretical studies per month, either on the spot or online.

Apprenticeship training makes it possible to receive a salary simultaneously with studies, and also earn valuable work experience. There are more than 160 qualifications to choose from by apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship can last from a couple of weeks to 36 months: you can study for a whole degree or a portion of it. Completing the upper secondary qualification (ammatillinen perustutkinto) takes 2–3 years, completing the vocational and specialist vocational qualification (ammatti- ja erikoisammattitutkinto) 1–1.5 years.

During an apprenticeship, you are an employee and get a salary in line with the collective agreement. There are even some social benefits, like per diem (daily allowance) and travel compensations, paid by the educational institution that organises the studies.

The Industrial Union is working hard to better training possibilities. Shop stewards see that students are treated well and the Union collective agreements support those who are guiding students at work.

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Those with at least eight years of employment history can receive an adult education allowance (aikuiskoulutustuki) for full-time studies. This requires an unpaid leave for at least two months and a maximum of 15 months studies in a Finnish public education system. The studies can, however, be organised flexibly and do cover various forms of studies.

The other main conditions for eligibility are that you live permanently in Finland and you are covered by Finnish social security, you have been employed by your current employer for at least one year at least 18 hours a week and you do not receive other benefits like unemployment allowance or some type of pension.

From the beginning of August 2020, some minor changes will be made to the law concerning the adult education allowance scheme. The eligibility criteria remain the same as before but there are some changes in the actual amount of the benefit.

If, for example, your normal salary was 2,500 euro in a month and you earn a maximum of 250 euro in a month during the studies, the monthly benefit is 1,352.32 euro. With the same normal salary, but with earnings of 1,000 euro a month during studies the benefit will be 853.32 euro a month.

The scheme is run by the state Employment Fund and their homepage has comprehensive information in English.