Saturday. 28.01.2023

245,000 people across the EU enrolled in Finland's AI course

The objective of the free course 'The elements of AI' is to train 1% of EU citizens in the basics of artificial intelligence.
FILED - Patrick Schanowski, research assistant, communicates during a press conference at the TU Darmstadt with robot "Alfie", a Moral Choice Machine, during the Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Presentation. Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa.
A researcher communicates with robot Alfie during the Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Presentation. Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa.

The free course 'The elements of AI', promoted by Finland to help raise the skills in artificial intelligence of Europeans has been published in 21 countries of the European Union in their own languages.

Latvia was the first country to launch the course in May 2020, and Spain and Slovenia the last ones in April 2021.

The initiative emerged during Finland's EU Presidency in December 2019. The government decided to invest in the future skills of Europeans and to offer the Elements of AI online course to all Member States for free.

The objective is to train 1% of EU citizens in the basics of artificial intelligence, thereby strengthening digital leadership within the EU. The course was designed and organised by the University of Helsinki and Reaktor, a Finnish technology company.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, 244,902 people have enrolled in the course across the EU, which represents 0.055% of the population. Of those enrolled in the course, 15.9% complete it.

About 55% of the participants are men and the rest are women. 

“Approximately 2% of Finnish people have completed the course and I encourage all Europeans to explore it. A key idea at our university is that science and learning belong to everybody. This course is one way to invest in the skills of citizens, promote lifelong learning and meet the society's need for information,” says Sari Lindblom, Rector of the University of Helsinki.

Highest proportion in Croatia, Latvia

Of the new countries, the proportion of the population enrolled in the course is highest in Croatia (more than 21,000 participants, or 0.5% of the population) and in Latvia (around 7,200 participants, or 0.4% of the population). Meanwhile, the number of those enrolled who completed the course is the highest in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy, around 15–19%.

Sweden and Estonia hold the top spots in the statistics, because the course has been available there already before Finland’s initiative.

Worldwide, more than 660,000 have participated in the course.

“Artificial intelligence is not a robot revolution, but an everyday thing that does not need to be mystified. The course offers a kind of science-based vaccination against all the hype and misleading click headlines on artificial intelligence. Our aim is to involve citizens in thinking about new AI applications so that artificial intelligence can be developed to meet people’s real needs,” says Professor Teemu Roos, who is responsible for teaching the course.

List of countries

The course has now been published in the Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Greece, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, France, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark and the Czech Republic.

The course was available in Estonia, Sweden and Germany already before Finland’s initiative during the EU Presidency.  The language translations for the course has been provided by the European Commission.

“Digitalisation speeds up the transformation of work and requires new competencies from employees. At the same time, it offers solutions to learning new skills. An online course on the basics of artificial intelligence is a great example of how we can support the lifelong learning of Europeans. There is also a need for this course in the future,” Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen says.

“It is important for Finland to improve Europe’s digital leadership, and we believe that AI and other new technologies will increase economic growth and competitiveness in the EU. The Elements of AI course is a necessary initiative and its launch is a good starting point for long-term work,” Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä says.

245,000 people across the EU enrolled in Finland's AI course