Helsinki charts course for battling youth unemployment

Helsinki charts course for battling youth unemployment

The coronavirus pandemic undid years of work by local authorities in solving longstanding issues

A report completed last November by the City of Helsinki's Business Department shows that while unemployment fell most sharply among young people in Helsinki in 2019, in 2020 the number of unemployed young people rose by as much as 111 per cent for those under 25 and 96 per cent for those aged 25-29. The pandemic has undone the Finnish capital’s efforts in battling the problem and local officials are now scrambling to get back on track.

Corona woes

“The pandemic brought a sharp turn to a well-started year. In the previous year, the number of unemployed people under the age of 25 in Helsinki had decreased gratifyingly by about 10 per cent and the number of people aged 25–29 by 12 per cent.

Now the statistics speak a harsh language: as unemployment among those under 30 has risen, the number of job vacancies has fallen. The sharpest growth has taken place in the groups of unemployed people aged 20–24 and 25–29 in Helsinki,” says Ilkka Haahtela, Director of Immigration and Employment Affairs of the City of Helsinki.

In order to combat the issue, authorities in Helsinki are getting ready to launch a new municipal experiment in March that will hopefully salvage the situation. "Right now, flexibility, ingenuity and innovation are needed to solve the employment challenge that is shaking our society as a whole, and we are going to study and develop these elements through a municipal experiment,” explained Haahtela.

At the start of the municipal experiment, just under 50,000 unemployed people from Helsinki will be covered by the municipality's employment services. The transfer to the experiment specifically affects the long-term unemployed and, more generally, the harder-to-employ groups. They will have access to completely new types of service planning, although concrete work will not start until March.

According to local government officials, the old methods are evidently unsuitable for the current situation and creativity and innovation are of paramount importance – thus the experiment that is to be launched could play a pivotal role in Helsinki’s economic reboot.

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