Lack of jobs the biggest issue in employment, Photo: A-fund / Kusti Manninen

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A recent survey conducted by the Open Unemployment Fund (Avoimen työttömyyskassan) has shed light on the primary obstacles faced by individuals in the Finnish job market. According to the survey results, the most significant challenges to employment include a lack of available job positions, excessively long commutes, discrimination based on age, gender, or other characteristics, and a deficiency in personal skills or education.

The survey, carried out in late 2023, aimed to explore potential employment services the fund could offer its members in the future. Respondents highlighted the scarcity of potential job opportunities and long commutes as the largest hurdles, with discrimination and skill or education gaps also emerging as notable concerns. The Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) echoed this sentiment in a January press release, noting that job advertisements often demand excessive qualifications, deterring applicants from even applying.

The feedback came from over 900 members of the Open Unemployment Fund, 89 percent of whom had experienced unemployment at some point. The most common methods of securing employment among respondents were direct contact with employers (33%) and submitting applications for open positions (28%), with networking also playing a crucial role (16%).

Most survey participants reported that their periods of unemployment lasted between one to three months (34%), three to six months (17%), or six to twelve months (14%). Job seekers frequently used online platforms to browse open positions, but many also directly approached employers or leveraged personal contacts. The results indicated a particular need for personalized advisory services.

Upcoming Changes to Unemployment Funds' Services

The possibility for unemployment funds to offer employment services is part of a government proposal to amend the unemployment insurance act. This change would allow funds to provide their members with labor services aimed at supporting employment and job retention.

With the proposed amendments, funds could offer services such as job placement, information, advice and guidance, expert evaluations, and coaching to support their members' employability. These services would be private labor services and would not replace public employment and business services.

While specifics of the services the Open Unemployment Fund will offer remain undetermined due to the pending approval of the legislative changes, many of the fund's affiliated unions already provide various services to aid in employment. These could be integrated into the fund's potentially expanding suite of services, offering enhanced support for job seekers amidst the challenges of job scarcity and discrimination in the Finnish labor market.

HT

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