Finland: Working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Job quality,
  • Published on: 18 desember 2013



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Working conditions differ between young and other workers as well as between subgroups among the young. Many differences can, however, be explained by the length of career (e.g., earnings) or as differences between occupations and sectors that can be found in all groups (e.g., physical hazards). The 2008-09 financial crisis has had impacts which reflect the employment situation: more fixed-term work, lower perceived job security, longer working times, less influence. Working conditions are an important issue for social partners, but the concern is not limited to the young.

Introduction

This EWCO CAR is specifically focused on the group of “young entrants to the labour market”. This group includes all young people (between 15 and 30 years old) who have recently entered into the labour market (i.e., people with a work experience shorter than 1-2 years in the labour market), with relative independence of their age and for whom work is their main and core activity. This definition excludes young people for whom studies are their main activity but who combine their studies with some remunerated activity as part of their training programmes (e.g. apprenticeships in dual systems), as well as unemployed young people, even if they are actively looking for a job (see Background note for more detailed information on the concept of young entrants to be considered in the research).

The CAR coordinating team is conscious that such as “narrow” definition of “young entrants to the labour market” can make difficult the identification and collection of relevant information on the topic. Therefore, and in the case no national information is available using this “narrow” definition, National Correspondents can use a “proxy” definition of “young entrant to the labour market” as any young person (i.e. between 15 and 30 years old) who is in employment, irrespectively of the number of years of experience that he/she has in the labour market (again, unemployed young people are excluded from the analysis).

The questionnaire focuses on the following topics:

  • General description and characterisation of the main current working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in your country in comparison to other age groups (around 700 words)

  • Identification and characterisation of existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market in your country (around 600 words)

  • Evolution of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in the last five years. Effects of the economic crisis (around 500 words)

  • Initiatives taken by national governments/social partners in order to improve employment levels and working conditions of young entrants to the labour market (around 500 words)

  • Final commentary on the main results (around 100 words)

Block 1: General description and characterisation of the main current working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in your country in comparison to other age groups

NCs are kindly requested to provide the most updated information (coming from national surveys, administrative registers or ad-hoc national research/studies) on a number of working conditions-related variables specifically related to young entrants to the labour market in comparison to other age groups. Please provide the information only for those variables where significant/important differences, either positive or negative, can be identified in relation to other age groups, stressing the causes and rationale of these differences

Suggested extension of this section: around 700 words

1.1 Career and employment security issues

We used Finnish National Work and Health Survey (2009 and 2012 data) to report the working conditions of young people (20-30 years old). These surveys have targeted Finns aged 20-64 years (population sample) and collected as computer-assisted telephone interviews. The 2012 data had 2118 and the 2009 data 3363 working respondents. As a reference group we used 31-64-years old workers. Most young (20-30 years) (84%) and older (31-64 years) workers (87%) were pleased with their work. Young worked in permanent employment less often (65%) than older workers (89%) and also in regular day work less often (59%) than older workers (72%). Young workers’ mean working hours per week (37.5 hours) was less than that of older workers (39.9 hours). For nearly half of the young workers (42%) salary per month was less than 2000 euros, as opposed to only 24% of older workers. One out of three young workers (35%) could influence the length of one’s working day very or quite much, in comparison with 38% of older workers. One in four young (26%) had to be flexible daily or weekly in working times either because the job requires it or management asks it (24% of older workers).

Finnish Ministry of Labour and the Economy has commissioned a series of annual Working Life Barometer surveys, aimed at measuring working conditions in Finnish working life. The surveys have consisted of a subsample of Labour Force Survey respondents and they have been conducted in September-October of each year with approximately 1100-1200 working respondents (computer-assisted telephone interviews). The number of young people in Working Life Barometer is relatively small, but results provide some insight into working conditions of young people. According to the 2011 data, young people (18-24 years) were less fearful of losing employment than the other age groups.

1.2 Skills development

Work and Health Survey. Nearly half (48%) of young workers considered that they had good opportunities to develop oneself professionally at present workplace and 66% that training was arranged very or rather well at workplace. Corresponding figures in older age group were 42% and 66%, respectively.

Working Life Barometer. According to 2011 results, the youngest age group (under 25 years) participated less in employer-paid training than the older age groups. The low rate of participation in employer-paid training by young people is most likely linked to the temporary nature of employment relationships (fixed-term contracts), young people's occupations and the general position of young people at the workplace. (TEM 29/2012, Tilastokeskus 2008). Young people's opportunities to influence the content of their own tasks and work distribution were felt lower than those of other age groups in 2011. In addition, young people evaluated opportunities to participate in job development somewhat lower than the others. The youngest and the oldest workers perceived less frequently than other age groups that the manager encourages them to contribute to the development of workplace. (TEM 29/2012, TEM 6/2013)

1.3 Health and well being

Work and Health Survey. Psychological stress was less common among young workers (20% considered work as quite or very psychologically stressful) than older workers (31%). Young did not have to rush (35% quite or very often) as often to get work done as older workers (45%). Young also got more support from line manager and colleagues than older workers.

Working Life Barometer. According to 2011 data the youngest age group (under 25) perceived slightly more physical burden in their work than other age groups. This is most likely linked to the young workers’ occupations. However, in year 2011 young workers perceived less psychological burden in their work comparing to other age groups. Young workers assessed the fairness at work and development of working life more positively than other age groups. (TEM 29/2012). Reports of physical and mental violence were most common at workplaces in the local government and public sector (TEM 29/2012). Also, differences existed between age groups in relation to experiences of violence. The youngest workers (18-24 years) were more at risk to face violence in the public sector workplace than older employee groups (25-30 years, 30+ years).

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has collected biannually data on working conditions in the municipal sector in the 10-Town-Study. In 2012, the youngest group of workers experienced more mental (verbal intimidation) and physical violence-related situations (especially kicking and striking) than the older age groups. It has been suggested that this phenomenon is most likely related to young people's occupations and lack of experience or skills to anticipate threat of violence in certain situations (Työministeriö 6/2007).

Young workers are at a higher risk of work accidents than workers of any other age group. In 2008, 8 % of workers under the age of 25 had an accident at work during the previous 12 months. This can be explained by a high frequency of injury hazards in sectors and occupations where they typically work (e.g. construction, fast food restaurants) (Tilastokeskus 2008).

1.4 Reconciliation of working and non-working life

Work and Health Survey. Most young (84%) and older workers (86%) had seldom difficulties in concentrating on work because of things at home. Feelings of neglecting things at home because of job were more common. One in four young (25%) and 31% of older workers had these feelings at least now and then.

Working Life Barometer. According to 2011 survey the work of those in the younger age group involved less flexibility in working hours.

Block 2: Identification and characterisation of existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market in your country

NCs are kindly requested to provide the most updated information (coming from national surveys, administrative registers or ad-hoc national researches/studies) on differences of working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market, for a series of variables. Please provide the information only for those variables where significant/important differences, either positive or negative, can be identified, stressing the causes and rationale of these differences

Suggested extension of this section: around 600 words

2.1 Personal characteristics of young entrants

Work and Health Survey. According to combined 2009 and 2012 data there were some notable differences between age subgroups [(20-24, early twenties) and 25-30, late twenties)]. Early twenties worked in permanent employment less often (54%) than late twenties (72%). Early twenties also worked in regular day work less often (51%) than late twenties (64%). Early twenties mean working hours (34.7 hours) was less than late twenties’ (39.1 hours). Early twenties’ salary was less than 2000 euros more often (58%) than late twenties’ salary (30%). Early twenties could influence the length of one’s working day less often (30%) than late twenties (37%). Less than half (45%) of early twenties considered that they had good opportunities to develop oneself professionally (50%among late twenties). Physical stress was more common among early twenties (29%) than late twenties (23%). Psychological stress was less common among early twenties (16%) than late twenties (23%). Feelings of neglecting things at home because of job were less common among early twenties (19%) than late twenties (27%).

Work and Health Survey. Men worked in in permanent employment more often (68%) than women (62%). Men also worked in regular day work more often (65%) than women (52%). Men’s mean working hours per week was higher (38.9 hours) than women’s (35.8 hours). Men’s salary was less often (38%) less than 2000 euros than women’s salary (46%). Women could influence the length of working day less often (28%) than men (41%). Men were exposed more to chemicals, solvents, vibration and awkward work postures. Women were more often exposed to smell of mould and stale air. Women had to rush more often (40%) to get work done than men (30%). Women had more often (21%) difficulties in concentrating on work because of things at home than men (11%). Feelings of neglecting things at home because of job were also more common among women (29%) than men (20%).

Work and Health Survey. Comparisons were made between those who had primary/secondary education or higher education. Lower educated worked in regular day work less often (52%) than higher educated (70%). Working hours per week was less among lower (36.9 hours) than higher educated (38.5 hours). Salary per month was more often less than 2000 euros among lower (56%) than higher educated (25%). Every third lower educated (32%) could influence the length of one’s working day very or quite much (39% among higher educated). Higher educated had better possibilities to skill development at work. Lower educated were more often exposed to chemical and physical risks and hazards at work (excluding mould) than higher educated. Lower educated young perceived physical stress at work more often (31% considered work as quite or very physically stressful) than higher educated (17%). Psychological stress was a little less common among lower educated (19%) than among higher educated (23%).

2.2 Occupational characteristics

Work and Health Survey. In Finland young work mainly in Wholesale and retail trade, Human health and social work activities, Manufacturing and Construction sectors. We compared the results of these sectors to the results of all 20-30-year old workers. Young in Wholesale and retail trade worked less in regular day work, had less working hours and could influence the length of working day less than young workers in general.Young in Human health and social activities worked less in permanent employment and in regular day work, could influence the length of working day less, had to be more flexible in working times, perceived more physical and psychological stress and had more feelings of neglecting things at home than young workers in general. Young in Manufacturing sector were less pleased with their work, exposed more often to chemicals and physical risks and hazards at work as well as perceived physical stress at work more often than young workers in general. Young in Construction sector were exposed more often to chemicals and physical risks and hazards at work as well as perceived physical stress at work more often than young workers in general.

Work and Health Survey. In SMEs 73% worked in permanent employment and in larger companies 57%. In SMEs 66% worked in regular day work compared with 53% in larger companies. In SMEs working hours per week were 39.2 hours as opposed to 35.1 hours in larger companies. Physical stress was a little more common in SMEs (28%) than in larger companies (22%). There were better possibilities for skill development in larger companies.

Work and Health Survey. Blue-collar workers worked in permanent employment more often (73%) than white-collar employees (upper 59% and lower 61%). Blue-collar workers worked in regular day work more often (55%) than lower white-collar employees (48%), but less than upper white-collar employees (86%). Blue-collar workers’ mean working hours was 38.1 hours, lower white-collar employees 34.4 hours and upper white-collar workers’ 37.2 hours. Upper white-collar employees could influence the length of working day more often (56%) than lower white-collar employees (28%) and blue-collar workers (25%). Blue-collar workers had fewer possibilities for skill development than white-collar employees. Blue-collar workers were exposed to chemical and physical risks and hazards at work (excluding mould) more often than white-collar workers. Blue-collar workers perceived physical stress at work more often (38%) than lower white-collar employees (20%) and upper white-collar employees (6%). Psychological stress was less common among blue-collar workers (16%) than lower white-collar employees (19%) and upper white-collar employees (29%). Lower white-collar employees had most difficulties in work-life balance.

Block 3: Evolution of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in the last five years. Effects of the economic crisis

NCs are kindly requested to provide information on the following items: NCs are kindly requested to provide information (coming from national surveys, administrative registers or ad-hoc national researches/studies) on differences of working conditions amongst the group of young entrants to the labour market in comparison to the situation five years ago. Please provide the information only for those variables where significant/important differences, either positive or negative, can be identified, stressing the causes and rationale of these differences

Suggested extension of this section: around 500 words

3.1 Please provide information on the evolution of working conditions of young labour entrants in the last five years. Have working conditions of this group improved/deteriorated in comparison to the existing situation five years ago (before the economic crisis began)? What are the reasons for these changes

Work and Health Survey. Young workers’ work satisfaction had increased from 2009 (82% were very or quite satisfied) to 2012 (87%). In 2012 fewer worked in permanent employment (61%) than in 2009 (69%). Also in 2012 fewer worked in regular day work (54%) than in 2009 (64%). Average of working hours per week was higher in 2012 (38.2 hours) than in 2009 (36.9 hours). In 2012 one out of three (31%) could influence the length of one’s working day very or quite much, as opposed to 38% in 2009. In 2012 one in three (31%) had to be flexible daily or weekly in one’s working times, in 2009 this was less, 20%. In 2009 half (50%) considered that they had good opportunities to develop oneself professionally and 67% that training was arranged very or rather well. In 2012 these numbers were lower (43% and 63%, respectively). The exposure to chemical and physical risks and hazards at work decreased from 2009 to 2012.

Working Life Barometer. The 2009 recession caused a drop in the estimates of finding a new job. This was particularly the case among young people (18-24 years old) and the oldest age group (45 to 54 - and 55-64-years of age). However, this has changed in the last couple of years. In 2012, more than 90% of young workers felt that they would find a new job if necessary. (TEM 6/2013)

3.2 Based on possible existing prospective studies, please provide information on the expected evolution of employment levels and working conditions of young labour market entrants in your country in the near future (coming 2-3 years)

No such estimates were identified.

Block 4: Initiatives taken by national governments/social partners in order to improve employment levels and working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

4.1 Identify main recent national measures/initiatives (1-2) put in place in your country by public authorities in order to improve employment opportunities and working conditions for young entrants to the labour market.

Occupational safety unit of Regional Administrative Agencies (Etelä-Suomen Aluehallintoviraston Työsuojelun vastuualue) carries out surveillance to employers who employ young workers. One example of this activity is a 2012 project during which a total of 125 inspections were conducted in Western Finland at workplaces that employ young workers who are entering the labour market for the first time. The evaluation focused on employment contracts, organization of working time, work orientation, as well as the organization of occupational health services. During these inspections employers were instructed and ordered to correct any deficiencies. This project continues in summer 2013.

In 2013 Finnish government launched Youth Guarantee programme. This programme includes an obligation that each person younger than 25 years and each recent graduate under 30 years of age be offered work, a traineeship, or a study, workshop or labour market rehabilitation place within three months of becoming unemployed. The social guarantee for young people is built on collaboration between different actors. The working group of the programme is seeking solutions to how young people can be provided with the competencies needed in working life and how to recognise the need for support. Aim is to find ways of enabling young people to find employment which matches their skills, and to make employers eager to help young people enter work. The working group is preparing proposals for improving working life in a way that places greater emphasis on the meaningfulness of work.

4.2 Identify main recent initiatives (1-2) put in place in your country by social partners (either at national, sector or company level) in order to improve working conditions amongst young entrants to the labour market.

One of the recent initiatives of certain social partners in Finland [Teknologiateollisuus (The Federation of Finnish Technology Industry), Metallityöväen liitto (The Finnish Metalworkers’ Union), Ylemmät toimihenkilöt YTN (Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff), Ammattiliitto Pro (Trade Union Pro), Uusi insinööriliitto (Union of Professional Engineers in Finland)] is ‘Hyvä työ - Pidempi työura’ project (Good Work – Longer Career). The project involves 50 companies and it has produced new practices for enhancing wellbeing at work. In addition, project offers training to workplaces. Project activity includes seminars, in which companies have the opportunity to network and get up-to-date information about well-being at work. According to effectiveness studies, the project has improved well-being and job satisfaction of young workers in target organizations. Change in perceived job wellbeing (employee wellbeing index) for the better was from six to nine per cent during one year. Data was collected in 2011 and 2012. In both years, a sample consisted of approximately 800 employees from four different organizations.

Commentary by the NC

Due to the 2008-9 financial crisis, youth unemployment has increased also in Finland. The focus has been on finding young people employment and study opportunities. There has been some discussion about what types of jobs younger generations are willing to accept and whether they could be hired at lower wages, but not about lowering working conditions in general. Working conditions of employment agency workers have also been subject to discussion. As length of careers is a concern, quality of jobs is recognised as an important factor for all age groups.

Mikko Nykänen, Merja Perkiö-Mäkelä, Simo Virtanen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

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