Lifelong learning for Smart Specializations

Vidzeme Planning Region with support from JAMK University of Applied Sciences are organising a parallel seminar on June 13, 2019 as a part of the EUSBSR Annual Forum in Gdansk.

Seminar addresses SMEs needs for Lifelong Learning to Transition towards Sustainable Business Models

Changing demographic patterns has a strong impact on socio-economic development in the Baltic Sea Region and these changes accelerate regional disparities. The smart specialization focused lifelong learning is a tool to tackle demographic and economic challenges (including the needs of circular and sharing economy).

The seminar aims to raise awareness of flexible lifelong learning pathways as a solution for building SMEs capacity for learning and change to boost transition to sustainable business models in the BSR countries.

The seminar addresses the need of the SMEs to build their ability to learn and change in the transforming markets. Many sectors have not yet embraced the potential of bioeconomy and circular economy, nor the fast-moving digital world, even though their clients may already be there. The pressure for change is rising with diversification of customer needs and with entry of new competition from global and unexpected origins. Capacity to learn is vital for renewal of business models and uptake of innovations in SMEs to pave the way to sustainable and inclusive economic development.

The seminar will be innovative and with added value, addressed topics:

  • innovative high-quality flexible adult learning pathways in smart specialization SMEs in BSR countries. Well-developed learning methods would provide significant support to the industries,

  • searching to cover the gap of competencies of the workforce.

This seminar focus includes lifelong learning for building SMEs capacity for learning and on change to boost transition to sustainable business models (covering relevant topics: business-driven approach to circular economy and demography and circularity).

Updated programme available on EUSBSR Annual Forum 2019 website

Speakers and panelists have been announced for the seminar

Moderator: Ms Inese Suija – Markova, Managing Director, Institute for Environmental Solutions (Latvia)


  • Ilona Platonova, Project expert - Innovation Broker, Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia)
  • Annemari Sinikorpi, Communication Coordinator and Ms Anna Aalto, Project Manager, JAMK University of Applied Sciences (Finland)
  • Esa Kokkonen, Priority Area Innovation Coordinator of EUSBSR (Finland)
  • Ugnius Savickas, Innovation instructor, Executive education designer, Business consultant (Lithuania)
  • Sabine Hahn, Priority Area Education Coordinator of EUSBSR (Germany)
  • Joanna Bochniarz, President of Center for Innovative Education (Poland)
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Seminar on Lifelong Learning for Smart Specialization

The outcomes of the EUSBSR Annual Forum 2019 are available at the

… and the report of our seminar organised by Vidzeme Planning Region and JAMK University of Applied Sciences, is available via this link.

The aim of the seminar was to raise the awareness on the flexible lifelong learning pathways as a solution for building small and medium-size enterprises’ (SMEs) capacity for learning and change to boost the transition to sustainable business models in the Baltic Sea Region countries. The seminar addressed the need for the SMEs to build their ability to learn and change in the transforming markets. There is a growing need to focus on lifelong learning as an instrument for the development of society and regions.

The seminar focused on the following central themes:
• The Gap of Competences for the Recent Economy;
• SMEs and Innovation Perspective in Lifelong Learning;
• Creating Competence with a Finnish Touch;
• Future Skills.

SMEs account for 99% of all companies in Europe. Challenges SMEs are facing is lack of skilled workforce, increasing costs of workforce and business transfer challenges. Greater attention should be paid to the learning process in the work environment and the lifelong learning should be included in the development strategy of each SME. However, SMEs needs are underrepresented in discussions about education. The current situation shows, SMEs and individuals tend to choose different training. Therefore, in the recruitment phase, those people who will use their skills for SMEs should be selected. Compulsory recruitment rate should be introduced so only “fit for market” training is provided by the public funds. At the same time, the training programmes of adult education for SMEs should be flexible, short-term and oriented to the needs of SMEs, and useful for the economic development of the regions. Introduced with existing best practices on how SMEs can learn together and not waste time, such example as the Biobord platform was developed and is piloting in RDI2CluB project partnership that connects rural bioeconomy entrepreneurs with talent, expertise, peers, support and consumers to boost business development and innovation. A collective understanding was reached that the qualitative dialogue among all parties involved (such as local, regional and national government bodies, private sector organizations, and institutions offering educational services) is needed to local, regional and at Baltic Sea Region scale to link lifelong learning education and needs of SMEs.

The RDI2CluB partners are interested in pursuing this topic further in international co-operation. The discussion is open for any interested organisations.

The co-operation on the Life long learning topic will continue with the newly approved Erasmus+ project PULSE! Partners include Vidzeme Planning region and JAMK University of Applied Sciences.

Ps. I also wrote a blog inspired by the seminar. It is available at