THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) is considering shutting down Työkanava, a state-funded staffing service provider that focuses on providing employment opportunities to people with impaired capacity to work, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

“This is the kind of message we got from officials late in the week,” Sari Nikkola, the managing director of Työkanava, stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

“We don’t have absolute certainty about the closure because the decisions will be made in the framework session, but the message does sound quite serious.”

The Finnish government will start the two-day framework session today, seeking to come to an agreement on spending cuts and tax increases worth altogether three billion euros. With Työkanava allocated roughly five million euros in funding for this year, its closure would be a small step toward the target.

Nikkola told Helsingin Sanomat that the company has only spent a share of the funding allocated for it so far, spending a total of 1.5 million euros to kick off its operations in the past two years.

Modelled after Samhall in Sweden, Työkanava was established by the government of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) in 2022. It seeks to utilise state subsidies to provide meaningful employment opportunities to people with impaired capacity to work by connecting them with companies.

So far, though, it has fallen well short of its objectives. Initially, Työkanava set out to provide employment to 400 people with impaired work capacity by the end of last year. The target was later lowered to 170, but at the end of last year the company had only helped to provide employment to 17 people.

“We’ve done the groundwork for 18 months. But now we’re getting assignments. With the initial investments made and the operations up and running, it feels weird to shut down the company at this point from a business perspective. That doesn’t save state money,” Nikkola argued to Helsingin Sanomat.

Samhall is better funded and has provided employment to as many as 25,000 people with impaired work capacity.

Minister of Employment Arto Satonen (NCP) declined to comment on the fate of Työkanava on Sunday, according to a member of his staff reached by Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT