The Finnish government must continue its work if it is to raise the employment rate to 72 per cent by the end of 2019, admits Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).
Sipilä on Thursday pointed out that although the share of unemployed job seekers of the working-age population has decreased in 15 administrative regions in Finland since mid-2015, many aspects of the employment situation remain a concern for the government.
“We have more job vacancies than ever before in the past ten to twelve years,” he highlighted in a press conference. “But the share of job vacancies that are difficult to fill has grown at a comparable rate.”
The government decided in its budget session to address the labour market mismatch by, for example, expanding the eligibility criteria for unemployment security benefits to also cover job seekers who are participating in training and education programmes lasting a maximum of six months. Job seekers will similarly be able to receive unemployment benefits for four months after starting a business.
Expanding the eligibility criteria is estimated to cost 13.5 million euros a year.
The government proposed that the annual appropriations for employment services be raised by 25 million euros to develop the services provided to the unemployed, such as the quarterly interviews with employment officials.
“As the employment situation has been developing positively, youth unemployment has emerged as a particular concern for us,” reminded Sipilä. “The number of study places in vocational education will be increased by roughly a thousand and the availability of wage subsidies will be improved for under 30-year-olds.”
The number of study places will be increased especially in sectors that are struggling to find skilled workers. The appropriations for vocational education will consequently be raised by 9.5 million euros.
The government also revealed that it will acquire employment services from private service providers by means of performance-based agreements with the objective of ensuring as many as 10,000 under 30-year-old job seekers enrol in training or find employment. A total of 15 million euros has been earmarked for remunerating the service providers for re-introducing young people to the ranks of the employed successfully.
Petteri Orpo (NCP), the Minister of Finance, on Thursday voiced his confidence that the measures agreed on will ensure the fruits of the economic growth can be enjoyed by a growing number of Finns.
“A high employment rate is the best way to fight social exclusion. It’s the best way to guarantee a high level of well-being. It’s the best cure for inequality,” he listed in the press conference.
“We’ve got an opportunity to reach an employment rate of 72 per cent by the end of this electoral term. More work is still needed, but in the long term we must examine structural reforms as a means to look further into the 2020s where our objective must be to reach the level of other Nordic countries,” stated Orpo. “Our work isn’t done yet.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva