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Huge demand for the employment services to be renewed

The municipal employment experiment will start on 1 March 2021 and Helsinki’s employment services will get approximately 50,000 new customers during March. In this municipal experiment, Helsinki will be partly responsible for providing the employment and economic development services (TE services) in its area. Unemployed jobseekers and those taking part in an employment service who are not entitled to earnings-related unemployment allowance will be transferred to Helsinki’s employment services. In addition, all jobseekers who are under 30 as well as immigrants and foreign-language speakers taking part in an employment service are also transferred to Helsinki’s employment services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has treated the service sector and youth employment exceptionally harshly in Helsinki, and the situation is also reflected in the unemployment figures. Ilkka Haahtela, Head of Immigration and Employment Affairs, City of Helsinki, says that efforts were made to address the employment situation at the municipal level already before the pandemic. Currently, work plays an even more significant role.

“Unemployment has become more complicated. The complex situation may be due to a lack of competence, challenges related to working ability and capabilities or lack of networks. Labour markets have changed and continue to change even more and faster in the future,” says Haahtela.

Therefore, Helsinki’s employment services is creating a new kind of effective employment model. This new model is aiming, above all, to find solutions for the employment situation and remove barriers to employment.

“It is important to pilot employment services open-mindedly. Helsinki, as a large city, has great resources for this. We cannot produce all the services by ourselves, but we can guide our customers to correct services through our extensive partner network. In this municipal experiment, we will also strongly utilise data and data-driven management. This will help us operate more agilely,” adds Haahtela.

A more extensive service network and more resources

The currently launched municipal employment experiments will enhance the jobseekers’ service offering and improve the overall customer experience. The municipal experiments will enable stronger cooperation with companies, educational institutions and the third sector operators to remove jobseekers’ barriers to employment.

“After these changes, approximately 250 employment specialists and facilities in Itäkeskus and Pasila will be transferred from the TE Services to the City of Helsinki. Helsinki, as the capital city, has large customer volumes and is, therefore, in a slightly different position as the other cities. Approximately 40% of the 50,000 jobseekers to be transferred from the TE Services to the City of Helsinki are immigrants,” says Heidi Lehtovaara, Service Supervisor, City of Helsinki.

The municipal employment experiment opens up new and more effective routes to employment also for immigrants.

“Nearly 70% of immigrant women arrive to Finland for family reasons, which means that they do not usually have a study or working place, let alone social and professional networks in Finland,” says Lehtovaara.

Services provided in several languages

It is important for the employment service customers to get services in their own native languages. This was also noted in the Women to Work project (2019–2021) coordinated by Helsinki’s employment services.

“We have served our jobseeker customers in Finnish, Swedish and English as well as in Russian, Somali language and Arabic. It is also important to provide services in plain Finnish. We have also outsourced services to meet the needs that have been previously unmet,” says Project Planner Tanja Namrood.

She reminds that it is crucial to understand the overall situation of the customer.

“Due to the municipal experiment, we can invest in services in one’s native language and intensive guidance. The barrier to employment may be, for example, a health issue which can be clearly identified through guidance in one’s native language. This helps us solve the issue, and the path towards employment may open,” says Namrood.

Multidisciplinary help with joint efforts

The Youth services offering rehabilitation services for the promotion of employment serve customers under 30 whose employment requires the integration of several different services. According to Service Manager Kristiina Aho, the basic principle of the team is to comprehensively help young people move forwards in their lives either through employment or studying.

“Our team will continue to have extensive expertise. The team members include social workers, experts with Bachelor of Social Services degrees, specialists transferred from the TE offices with different backgrounds and, for example, psychologists specialised in career choice issues,” says Aho.

We also have Kela’s work capacity advisers, a guidance counsellor, occupational health nurses and a business coordinator in our team.

“With this operating model and team, we can truly take the situation and issues of the young person forward,” emphasises Aho.

Read more about the municipal experiment:

In areas selected to the municipal employment experiment, some of the statutory employment services are transferred from the TE Services to municipalities. During this municipal experiment, the City of Helsinki will organise employment services to approximately 50,000 customers. The purpose of the municipal experiment is to promote the employment of unemployed jobseekers, intensify the guidance to education and services and create new solutions for the availability of skilful workforce. The experiments will start on 1 March 2021 and it will end on 30 June 2023.