EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Finland: ERM comparative analytical report on recent policy development related to those Not in Employment, Education and Training (NEET)

  • Observatory: EMCC
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 06 February 2012



About
Country:
Finland
Author:
Simo Virtanen
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The interest in the issue of NEETs is high as the funding of Finnish welfare state is under stress as a result of population ageing and the recent recession. It is therefore associated with hot debate on how to extend work careers. The Finnish approach to NEETs places emphasis on the value of education, coupled with individual responsibility. The current problems are perhaps more on the job creation side and job-based learning. The issue was addressed in several policy programmes of the previous government and is also at the core of the newly appointed government's platform.

1. Introduction

1.1 What is the level of interest among the different stakeholders in your country (policy makers, the media, employers and trade unions) in the issue of NEETs? What are their reasons for having a high/ low level of interest in the topic? (Expected length 100 words)

The interest in the situation of NEETs is quite high, particularly after the recent recession started as it hit young people especially hard. The issue is related to the funding of Finnish Nordic-style welfare state and the related issue of extending work careers. Raising retirement age has been opposed by the public and trade unions, which puts more emphasis on extending careers in the beginning (i.e., at entry). Employers, on the other hand, have been particularly concerned about the availability of qualified work force in certain economic activities. The interest has been increased by media publication of numbers of NEETs and the costs of the problem.

1.2 Using the following table, please identify which sub-groups of NEETs are of particular concern to the different stakeholders in your country. Please indicate the relative importance of each group to the different stakeholders; for each group please state whether they are felt to be of ‘significant concern’, ‘some concern’, or ‘no concern’ to the different stakeholders.

Table 1 – NEETs sub-groups
 

Public/media debate

e.g. the extent to which the issue is discussed within the news media

Mainstream Policy

e.g. the range of policy documents tackling the issue, the amount of investment committed to tackling the problem

Employers

e.g. the extent to which this issue is raised as a concern, e.g. through lobbying / pressure on the government, involvement in the design and/or implementation of relevant policies

Trade unions

e.g. the extent to which this issue is raised as a concern, e.g. through lobbying / pressure on the government, involvement in the design and/or implementation of relevant policies

Young people who are unemployed

Significant concern

Significant concern

Significant concern

Significant concern

Young people who are in ‘precarious’ or unsuitable employment (e.g. temporary contracts, forced self-employment, part-time work, or jobs which are not commensurate with their level of qualifications)

Significant concern

Some concern

Some concern

Significant concern

Early school leavers – young people who have dropped out of education before obtaining an upper secondary level qualification

Significant concern

Significant concern

Significant concern

Significant concern

Young people with qualifications which do not meet labour market needs

Some concern

Some concern

Significant concern

Some concern

Teenage/ single parents

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Migrants and minority groups

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Young people with disabilities

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Young people from workless families

Significant concern

Significant concern

Some concern

Significant concern

Young people from disadvantaged areas

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Young people with tertiary education who have been unsuccessful in accessing the labour market

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Some concern

Other (please specify):

Disability pensions of young people

.

Significant concern

Significant concern

Significant concern

Significant concern

1.3 Are there any policy measures in your country targeted at those NEETs with tertiary education? If yes please describe these briefly (expected length 100 words).

There are variants of more general policies for those with (or in) tertiary education. These include job search services (Aarresaari site) and practical training opportunities. Public sector offers practical training opportunities with wage subsidy, and companies and organisations are also important providers of practical training opportunities for students.

2. NEET Policies and Measures

2.1 Measures to tackle early school leaving

Preventive Measures to tackle early school leaving

2.1.1 Please provide a short overview of your country’s approach to preventing early school leaving. Where does the focus of policies and measures to prevent early school leaving lie?

There has been a practice of giving flexible and remedial instruction during the basic education in order to prevent students from dropping out. The aim is to provide support in the regular school setting rather than separate students with extra needs. Final three years of basic (nine-year) education are specifically targeted with an option for an extra (tenth) grade. After that, a ‘guarantee’ is given for further education (or a job). The guarantee, however, comes with an obligation of actively applying for educational programs (at the risk of losing benefits).

2.1.2 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to prevent early school leaving in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 2 - Early School Leaving: Preventive measures

Early School Leaving: Preventive measures

Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Yhteiskuntatakuu

See below

Joustava perusopetus

Description of the measure: Flexible primary education (Joustava perusopetus) targets grades 7-9 and those who are considered at risk of early leaving. Education is given in small groups in tailored forms and includes youth/social worker.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local): National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral? Unilateral

How is the measure funded? Local government (with state assistance)

Is this a NEET-specific measure? Yes

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group? No

2.1.3 Please provide a more detailed description of the preventive early school leaving measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

Youth social guarantee (Nuorten yhteiskuntatakuu) applies to those unemployed who are under 25 years old. It mandates that within three months from the start of unemployment, a young person is offered a job, an educational opportunity, or some other measure. Actions are based on a personalised employment plan. The guarantee is national and the primary responsibility lies with public employment services. The system was originally introduced in 2005 and revised in 2010. An evaluation was published in 2007. According to the report, the system importantly facilitates early intervention. It also emphasises regional equality, and is concrete and goal-oriented. Furthermore, the guarantee emphasises cooperation between different authorities as well as between the crucial relationship authorities and the young person. The guarantee requires commitment and facilitates commitment from the authorities but also imposes obligations on the young. On the statistical side, there was evidence that the youth guarantee had accelerated the pace in which personalised plans were drawn, and that it had decreased unemployment (leading either to employment or further training). The guarantees were not, however, always met.

Reintegration measures to tackle early school leaving

2.1.4 Please provide a short overview of your country’s approach to the reintegration of early school leavers. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

The Finnish policy on reintegration aims at early detection. This work is helped by the use of national registers, which in Finland are quite comprehensive and well-organised. It is, for example, possible to identify individuals who have completed basic education but are not enrolled in another educational nor are registered for unemployment benefits. The use of registers is, of course, regulated by privacy legislation. One point for early detection of problems is the mandatory military or alternative service of Finnish men, for which all men are evaluated in the year they turn 18.

2.1.5 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to reintegrate early school leavers in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 2 - Early School Leaving: reintegration measures

Kymppiluokka

Description of the measure: Tenth grade (Kymppiluokka) is an extra grade intended for those who don’t know what to do after primary school or have not been accepted to secondary education.

Scale of measure: National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral? Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure? Yes

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group? No

Early School Leaving: Reintegration measures
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Etsivä nuorisotyö

See below

Time out – Aikalisä. Elämä raiteilleen!

Description of the measure: Time out service is associated with mandatory military or alternative service of Finnish men. Young men are assessed for their suitability and those who are exempted from service on health or social grounds are given a chance to contact local health and social services. This also applies to those who withdraw from either service after starting.

Scale of measure: Local

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral? Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)? Local

Is this a NEET-specific measure? Yes

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group? No

2.1.6 Please provide a more detailed description of the reintegration early school leaving measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

Outreach youth work (Etsivä nuorisotyö) is a system where youth services try to track down persons (under 29) who are at a high risk of becoming NEET. It is based on law (January 1, 2011), which regulates, among other things, what information is to be made available to facilitate the service. Pilot programs, associated with youth workshops (see 2.2.6), have been run since 2008. The current service is run by municipalities and financed partly by state assistance. Program is national, but not mandatory for all municipalities. Outreach workers work in pairs, and in 2010 there were 230 such workers covering 192 municipalities. Two reports were written on 2008 activities (latter report, pdf). A statistical report was published on 2009 activities. In 2009, a total of 8200 young persons were identified by the workers, and 3363 were managed more closely.

2.2 Measures to facilitate access to employment

Facilitating the transition from school to work

2.2.1 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to facilitating school to work transitions. Where does the focus of policies and measures to facilitate transitions lie?

School to work transition is an important aspect of various programs, some of which are described in prevention and reintegration sections of this report. Job search assistance and guidance are the responsibilities of public employment services, through youth social guarantee (section 2.1.3). One specific program described below, Ammattistartti, is a guidance program for finding a suitable occupation.

2.2.2 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to facilitate school to work transitions in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 4 - Access to employment: Measures to facilitate school to work transitions
Access to employment: Measures to facilitate school to work transitions
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Ammattistartti

See below

2.2.3 Please provide a more detailed description of the school-to-work transition measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

Preparatory instruction and guidance for vocational education and training (VET), occupational start (Ammattistartti), is intended for those who have finished basic education (9 years), but are not ready to choose a vocational education track or have dropped out of a vocational program or high school at an early stage. This training aims at improving study skills and giving information about different occupations. The training takes place in groups and follows a curriculum, but in a flexible and individualised manner. The service has been permanent since 2010 and it was piloted in 2006-10. Instruction can be given by authorised educational institution (public, private, or third sector). The pilot programs were evaluated (PDF report). According to the report, trainees did move along their 'paths' with relative ease and a variety of ways, indicating programs' effectiveness. The personnel involved in the programs also proved to be highly professional and had good networks. Furthermore, the content and procedures of the programs were sufficiently diverse to suit a diverse trainee population. Finally, a good and supportive climate developed in the groups.

Measures to foster employability

2.2.4 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to fostering employability among NEETs. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

Most degrees in vocational education can be achieved through an apprenticeship (‘oppisopimus’) and an associated skills test (‘näyttötutkinto’). In addition, periods of practical training or internship are included at different levels of education, starting with basic education. Retraining courses are accessible through public employment services and the associated youth social guarantee (section 2.1.3). More specific programs are designed for situations where further training is not regarded as beneficial as direct job experience (e.g, those with tertiary education) or when life skills rather than specific job skills need to be developed further.

2.2.5 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to foster employability of NEETs in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 5 - Access to employment: Measures to foster employability (to include apprenticeships)
Access to employment: Measures to foster employability (to include apprenticeships).
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Nuorten työpajat

See below

Toppis-koulutus

Description of the measure: This form of training is similar to apprenticeship, but it does not lead to a degree or qualification and is short in duration. It includes training and subsidised work. It aims to lower recruitment threshold by providing practical experience at work.

Scale of measure: National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral? Tripartite

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)? national and private funding.

Is this a NEET-specific measure? Yes

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education? No

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group? No

Keko-koulutus

Description of the measure: This form of training is intended for those with tertiary education. It includes a short course period and a longer work period in a company, including completion of a project.

Scale of measure: National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral? Tripartite

How is the measure funded: National state funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure? Yes

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education? Yes

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group? No

2.2.6 Please provide a more detailed description of the measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country to foster the employability of NEETs (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

Youth workshops (Nuorten työpajat) are intended for those under 25 years of age. They are intended for transitional periods from general to vocational education or from education to work. They are places where young people can learn life-skills, grow into adulthood, and get practical work experience. The workshops are financed jointly by the state, workshop organisers, and sales proceeds. Workshop organisers can be municipal or third-sector organisations. Organisers have formed an association (Valtakunnallinen työpajayhdistys - National workshop association) to advance workshop activities. The association maintains an information service, among other things. The association reports that it had 196 member organisations in 2010 and that in 2008 there were a total of 545 workshops serving 15 000 trainees.Removing practical and logistical barriers

2.2.7 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to removing practical and logistical barriers for NEETs. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

The emphasis here appears to be more on general rather than specific programs for NEETs. There is a general form of transport subsidy as well as possibility of receiving relocation subsidy. Organising childcare is the obligation of municipalities (with state assistance), even for parents doing shift work, although the arrangements may not always be optimal. Language instruction for those of immigrant background is also generally available, although perhaps not to a sufficient degree. Law also requires that reasonable modifications are made to facilitate disabled workers.

2.2.8 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to remove practical and logistical barriers to employment for NEETs in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 6 - Access to employment: Measures to remove practical and logistical barriers
Access to employment: Measures to remove practical and logistical barriers
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Maahanmuuttajanuorten VaSkooli

Description of the measure: This is a specially designed educational guarantee model for immigrant youth, used in Turku and Salo areas of south-western Finland. It takes into account, for example, that immigrant youth often have more complicated educational paths with several preparatory (intermediate) steps.

Scale of measure: Local

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral? Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)? Local

Is this a NEET-specific measure? Yes

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education? No

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group? Yes

Measure 2:  
Measure 3:  

Employer incentives

2.2.9 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to incentivising employers to recruit young people (who are NEET). Where does the focus of policies and measures to incentivise employers lie?

Incentives are primarily offered in the form of subsidies. There is a specific subsidy regarding young workers ('Sanssi-kortti') as well as a more general subsidy ('palkkatuki'), which can also be utilised with NEETs. In addition to measures presented below, there have been provisions concerning social enterprises, but those provisions apply to long-term unemployed or disabled workers. In registered social enterprises, at least 30% of workers must come from those groups. Proposals to enact tax breaks or reduced wages have been controversial.

2.2.10 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to incentivise employers in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 7 - Access to employment: Employer incentives
Access to employment: Employer incentives
Name of measure

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Sanssi-kortti

See below

Palkkatuki

Description of the measure: Wage subsidy (Palkkatuki) can be given to employers under certain conditions. The goal is to improve the chances of those unemployed who apparently can not get hired in the open market.

Scale of measure: National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral? Tripartite

How is the measure funded: National state funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs? General

Is the measure specifically targeted at NEETs who already have a tertiary education? No

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group? No

2.2.11 Please provide a more detailed description of the employer incentive which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

'Chances card' (Sanssi-kortti) is a special form of wage subsidy. It can be granted to a recent graduate of any educational level (under 30 years), who is registered as unemployed (minimum age is 17 to register). The subsidy, given to the employer, can be up to 550 euros per month for as long as 10 months or for the duration of an apprenticeship. Employment can be full-time or part-time. Contract can be permanent or fixed-term, but the latter require at least 3 months (under 25 years of age) or 6 months (25-29 years of age) of unemployment. The program was launched in May 2010. After 7 months of program (January 2011), 18 500 persons had received the card and 3 200 of them had found employment (ministry announcement). The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has expressed satisfaction with the initial period of the program and is initiating its formal evaluation. The program seems to have been particularly successful in employing young men, who have been considered the group with the highest risk.

3. Conclusion

The problem has been noted in several important policy documents, including two policy programmes of the previous government coalition (Policy programme for the well-being of children, youth and families, Policy programme for employment, entrepreneurship and worklife; 2007-2011) and the National plan to reduce health inequalities.(2008-2011). The platform of the current government coalition, formed in June 2011 after a regularly scheduled election, also pays close attention to the problem of NEETs.

A recent statistical report first identifies 58 000 'outsiders' in 2008 (aged 15-29), but this excludes those who were registered as unemployed (52 000). The report points out, however, that not all are totally marginalised as some are home taking care of their children and qualify either for parental allowance or child home care allowance. The risk of becoming an 'outsider' is particularly high among those with only basic education and those of immigrant background. The report further estimates the number of NEETs as 48 000 (of which 8000 qualify for some child care allowance); this number includes only those who have nothing more than basic education.

The problem of NEETs has been seen both as an equality issue and an economic necessity. It is partly associated with the extension of work careers, which has become an important issue. There is general agreement on the need to extend careers (in the beginning, in the middle and in the end), but disagreement on how this could best be achieved. A related issue is the number and cost of disability pensions that start at an early age. Many of these (as with all disability pensions) are based on mental health problems, particularly depression. These are often detected already in school and also, for men, before or during to military or alternative service.

'Guarantees' provided by the authorities come with obligations placed on the NEETs. Certain benefits are conditional upon young person actively applying for educational programs or jobs. Also, there have been some plans to discourage so called 'off-years' that are sometimes taken by high school graduates by making entry to universities easier to the most recent graduates.

The focus on education of the policy is indicative of the pride that Finns take in their educational system. This is often brought up in the context of international comparisons (Programme of International Student Assessments, PISA) in which Finland has performed markedly well. The PISA results concern basic education, though, and it is unclear to what extent that success has been transferred to vocational or academic education.

Simo Virtanen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Add new comment