Unique joint venture between five universities and the commerce sector to strengthen digital commerce expertise

The Finnish Commerce Federation, the University of Eastern Finland, LUT University, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Oulu and Tampere University are launching a completely new type of study module on digital commerce which offers a long-awaited way to enhance e-commerce competence in Finnish education.

Commerce is the largest employer in the business sector and a key industry. Digitalisation is strongly shaping the sector and the related skills needs. However, the surveys conducted on skills needs in the commerce sector in recent years highlight the skills shortage in digital commerce, which can have wide-ranging implications for the well-being and vitality of businesses and regions.

The new curriculum is a targeted solution for tackling the skills shortage in digital commerce. The supporters of the project include the Helsingin Kauppiaitten Yhdistys association.

“The university-level study module on digital commerce plays an important role for companies in the sector that is increasingly struggling with skills shortages while e-commerce is growing. It is important that commerce experts will be more able to contribute to the challenges of digitalisation, automation, artificial intelligence, and platform economy in the future,” says Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

Towards a comprehensive and versatile understanding of digital commerce

The entirely online study module on digital commerce is intended for university students. The courses can also be completed at Open University where they are available to all who want to develop their skills. The study module includes six course units offered by the universities on various aspects of digital commerce, as well as a digital commerce internship in commercial enterprises coordinated by the Finnish Commerce Federation for degree students.

During the modules, students will be able to study digital commerce comprehensively, from procurement and logistics to customer behaviour, branding, and digital marketing.

“The aim is that after completing the study module, the student understands digital commerce in a versatile and comprehensive way and is able to apply the key concepts and skills of digital commerce to his or her work,” Kiviniemi says.

In September 2021, the studies will begin with an LUT University course unit on the management of procurement activities and supplier relations. It is possible to complete the study module during one academic year, but individual courses can also be taken to complement a person’s competencies.

Five universities’ collaboration and competence create top results

In addition to the Finnish Commerce Federation, the organisers of the digital commerce study module include five Finnish universities: the University of Eastern Finland, LUT University, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Oulu, and Tampere University. Each university will provides its own natural expertise tailored for the study module.

“The best thing the study module offers students is the opportunity to clarify the overall picture of how the different areas of commerce operate in the current business environment. The study module covers the value chain of commerce from procurement and the supplier market to the consumer market, offering unique expertise in the business management in the commerce sector,” explains Professor Anni-Kaisa Kähkönen from LUT University.

According to Saara Julkunen, Assistant Professor at the University of Eastern Finland, the new digital commerce module perfectly connects universities’ degree students and professionals who have already gained experience in working life, which will undoubtedly also improve national and regional competitiveness.

“Companies have already wanted to discuss several interesting matters in connection to these studies, and we are delighted to have received an initial promise from many digital commerce experts to share their know-how in the lectures,” Julkunen says.

“The cooperation model is unique because it combines the areas of expertise of different universities and the perspectives of commerce sector operators. As a result of the cooperation, the study module tailors students’ expertise to fit the needs of working life in a versatile manner,” says Assistant Professor Elina Närvänen from Tampere University.

Postdoctoral Researcher Timo Pohjosenperä from the University of Oulu is eagerly awaiting the study module to create closer, mutually beneficial cooperation between universities and operators in the commerce sector.

“In organising this module, we can join forces to strengthen the image of the economic and social importance of commerce and logistics in the changing world,” Pohjosenperä says.

According to Professor Heikki Karjaluoto from the University of Jyväskylä, this is the first time this kind of study module will be available in Finland.

“The module we have built is also a great opportunity for universities to develop our cooperation in the future. In this way, we can better react to the wishes of the business world and see how the School of Business and Economics’s already extensive supply of education can be built into a study module that will serve the business world even better,” Karjaluoto says.

For more information on the study module on digital commerce and participation in the course units, visit

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