Which HR companies are there in Estonia?
Digitization and education in Estonia: a shining example in the digital transformation of an entire country
Estonia may not be large in terms of area. However, the Baltic country has achieved impressive development over the past 30 years and is one of the pioneers in the fields of digitization and education. This is proven by the Estonian education system, the extensive availability and use of the Internet and Estonia as a digital state as a whole. There is also Latitude59: this international start-up and technology event in the Estonian capital Tallinn offers exciting insights into the world's first digital society every year.
Education in Estonia has pioneering potential
In the Estonian school system, students are usually taught together from first to ninth grade. Only after this phase is the decision to be made as to whether you want to continue to go to school and complete a postgraduate degree. Those who decide for the grammar school usually get a place, even with an average grade that can be improved.
In the field of digital classrooms, Estonia is an absolute pioneer: a program was initiated as early as the mid-1990s to provide all Estonian schools with internet access and computers within five years.
Robotics projects already take place in kindergarten and programming is on the curriculum from the first grade onwards. Even the smartphone is used in the classroom and is not banned as a means of distraction. Everyday school life is largely organized via an online platform that almost all teachers, students and parents use. This platform is used for many purposes, such as
- Lesson plans and timetables
- Documentation of absenteeism.
The teachers also use smartboards instead of blackboards. The aim is for all teaching materials to be available digitally by 2020.
The results are convincing: The small Baltic country moved up to number one in Europe in the PISA ranking with its digital classroom.
The problem in the school system, however, is that Estonians of Russian origin still attend Russian schools in which Russian is the primary language and Estonian is only one subject. In addition, the role of the private environment is extremely important, especially when no Estonian is spoken there. More than 40,000 students live in the small country. Tallinn has a university and a technical university. The second largest city, Tartu, is a real student city - one in five is a student there.
Internet in "E-Estonia"
Network coverage is Estonia is excellent in terms of availability and bandwidth, both in the city and in the country. 4G internet is available in 98 percent of the Estonian territory.
There is free WiFi on trains, and many Estonians not only use smartphones but also their laptops on the go. In more than 80 percent of the cases, as I could see, these were Apple devices.
Estonian technology company
When it came to the subject of the teaching system, we saw that Estonia is fully committed to digitization. One trigger for the digital euphoria was the success of the Skype software. Skype Technologies was founded by Swedish and Danish entrepreneurs. However, the software was developed by Estonians in the early 2000s. With TransferWise and Bolt (formerly Taxify) there are now other successful examples of companies from Estonia that began as start-ups and have now grown into billions. The next hyped company is Starship Technologies, founded by two Skype co-founders, which makes delivery robots.
How a digital state can work
But digitization is not only an issue in the corporate sector: Estonia itself, as a state, relies on digitization. For example, all Estonian citizens have an electronic identity. This enables access to your own central administration account on the one hand, and the use of numerous private offers on the other. This administrative account also enables access to all government services: from digital medical files to tax returns. Estonians can also take part in elections digitally.
The electronic tax system (e-tax) was introduced almost 20 years ago and is now used for around 95 percent of all tax returns. The basis for this is provided by the login via a secure ID and forms that are filled out automatically: the users only make the necessary changes. With this system, the tax return process, which is so tedious in this country, takes just three to five minutes.
Estonia is the first country to offer e-residency: a government-issued digital identity and growing in popularity (see also below).
E-residency enables digital entrepreneurs to manage business from anywhere - completely online. The offer is aimed primarily at freelancers, digital nomads, digital entrepreneurs and start-ups in the technology sector.
Cyber security: an answer to hacker attacks
In the spring of 2007 it became clear that problems related to Internet use can arise: At that time, the Tallinn City Council wanted to move the monument to the bronze soldier from the center to the outskirts. This led to sometimes violent demonstrations by members of the Russian-speaking minority. At the same time, hackers attacked the country. The targets of the attacks were mainly state organs, among others
- the Estonian Parliament
- the president
- various ministries
In response, Estonia founded the Cyber Defense Union. It is aimed at the Internet society in Estonia and explains the risks on the web.
Latitude59: Diverse international start-up and tech event
Latitude59 is a two-day, annual international startup and technology event in Tallinn. The event sees itself as a link between regional start-ups and markets, international investors and potential business partners.
Some of the main focuses of this year's event were
- the use of IT in medical technology
- Cyber security
- Artificial intelligence.
Presentations on developments in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as the Bolt company's rollout project, were also interesting. Numerous companies from abroad were also represented. Noteworthy were the exhibitors “Startup City Fukuoka” from Japan, the fastest growing start-up hub in Japan, and RoboValley, the center for robotics based in Delft, Netherlands.
At the event it was also announced that other countries would like to adopt the Estonian e-residency model, including the Netherlands.
Conclusion: There is a lot to learn from Estonia in terms of digitization
Estonia was at zero in 1991. In a feat of strength that is unique in Europe, the country managed to meet the requirements for EU accession within record time with a mixture of courageous politics and active entrepreneurs. In the meantime, Estonia has become a digital model and host of an active, transnational digital community.
If you want to find out about the latest trends in the areas of digitization, education, mobility and society, Estonia is the place where you can not only get information, but also experience it. That was also one of my intentions when I traveled to Estonia. The country and the Latitude59 gave us some new content for our toolbox trend2ability - it was definitely a visit that was worth it.
(Cover picture: Opening of Latitude59 in the Estonian capital Tallinn; Picture: © Patrick Müller / TCI GmbH)
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