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Sector report: Attracting and retaining workforce in the health and social services sector is challenging – working conditions must be improved

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
15.2.2021 10.30 | Published in English on 19.2.2021 at 15.13
Press release

Labour shortage in the health and social services sector is already high and likely to grow in the future. It is therefore very important to increase the attractiveness of the sector and improve working conditions. The role of the private sector as an employer must also be recognised better. 

These are the conclusions of a thematic report published on 15 February 2021, which provides an overview of labour market issues in the health and social services sector by examining current and longer-term changes in the operating environment.  

“It is essential to understand that without sufficient personnel there will not be enough high-quality health and social services available in the future. Objectives will not be achieved simply by increasing the number of workers or by growing the size of organisations and the volume of education. To improve the availability of labour, it is essential to focus on making the sector more attractive and develop working conditions. This work should start right now,” says Terhi Tevameri from the TE Office of Southwest Finland, who compiled the thematic report.

Major changes in demand for labour in health and social services sector in 2020 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected labour force in the healthcare and social welfare sector in many ways. The changes in the demand for labour in the sector have been very quick and significant. While the amount of work for those treating COVID-19 patients has increased, there have been lay-offs elsewhere, for example in oral health care. The healthcare and social welfare sector will continue to be burdened for a long time still. Attention must be given to this burden and workload and the ability of personnel and entrepreneurs to cope. 

The digitalisation of health and social services has progressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, it is important to strategically manage the future changes: what kind of digital services and technological innovations are appropriate to use and what kind of experiences and challenges digitalisation has caused for personnel.

Sector must become more attractive to ensure availability of labour

Depending on the statistical classification and choices used, the number of people working in the healthcare and social welfare sector varies between 333,000 and 422,000. Private health and social services are already a significant employer with approximately 88,000 employees – a fact that should be acknowledged better. The sector suffers from a labour market mismatch and labour shortage.

Business Sector Services are expert services provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment that collate, analyse and distribute information about the operating environment for companies and the development of sectors.  It promotes and supports business renewal, increase in added value, and internationalisation. It produces up-to-date, reliable and relevant information from selected industries and responds to national and regional information needs.

Terhi Tevameri, Coordinator for the health, social and wellbeing services sector, TE Office of Southwest Finland, tel. +358 29 504 4645, terhi.tevameri(at)te-toimisto.fi 
Katri Lehtonen, Head of Development, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 40 053 4926, katri.lehtonen(at)tem.fi

Review of labour force in the healthcare and social welfare sector: current trends and future prospects http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-327-812-7
Key figures in the health and social services sector: https://tem.fi/toimialapalvelu/sosiaali-ja-terveyspalvelut

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