Finnish high-schoolers, Source: Depositphotos

Free accommodation and driving licences: How Finnish towns aim attract the youth

Free accommodation and driving licences: How Finnish towns aim attract the youth

The benefits are aimed at high schoolers as a way to encourage them to finish their education locally

Finland’s countryside seems to have the same issues plaguing the rural areas of other Western and industrialized nations – young people don’t find it attractive to live there and leave in droves. Different local authorities in the Nordic country have thus been trying various ways to woo the youth, such as offering ‘baby bonuses’ in Lapland (to the tune of 6,000 euros per child born) but now the target is even younger people – high-schoolers.

That’s because rural municipalities noticed that many students would move away to larger cities to finish their high school education. The thing is – in Finland, teenagers are not limited by their geographical place of residence when picking a high school to study at and they have the freedom to study elsewhere in the country easily.

Finnish rural affairs newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus did a report on how various small towns across the country are trying to get creative in their efforts to convince their young residents to stick around.

One thing that the municipalities, such as Merikarvia, Paltamo and Puolanka, have started offering to pay for the driving licence courses for the students. In Finland, these cost about 1,000 euros.

Why these perks might not be enough to stall depopulation?

Yet other towns have decided to provide free-of-charge accommodation for students during their studies. Rautjärvi is one such municipality.

Pomarkku, Vesanto and Pihtipudas take a different approach by granting 1,000-euro scholarships to graduating high schoolers.

All of these towns are small with only a few thousand inhabitants at most and have seen the student bodies in their high schools dwindle over the past few decades.

These kinds of incentives, however, might be in vain as according to experts, all they would do is attract rural teenagers from neighbouring municipalities. However, this simply moves the issue around and it doesn’t resolve the problem that the countryside regions, as a whole, are less appealing places to live for contemporary youth.



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