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Finland should follow the example of Sweden’s Samhall: Intermediate labour market to help employ people with partial work ability

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
9.2.2021 11.45
Press release
Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.
Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen

At the request of Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen, Director General of Finnish Customs Hannu Mäkinen has formulated a proposal to improve the opportunities of people with partial work ability to find employment. Mäkinen proposes that Finland should take Sweden’s Samhall company as a model, but adapt it to the Finnish needs.

The new intermediate labour market operator would improve the transition of people with partial work ability to the open labour market. By combining adequate services and actual work, the intermediate labour market would provide jobs for those who otherwise would not be able to achieve this transition.

“The new Finnish model proposed by Rapporteur Hannu Mäkinen is needed,” Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen said at the publication of the report on 9 February 2021.

“Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government wants to significantly increase the employment opportunities of people with partial work ability and disabilities,” she added.

The Government is set to make decisions on the intermediate labour market in its spending limits discussion in spring 2021. The operations would start during 2022 at the latest.

“Samhall employs 25,000 people with partial work ability, and based on the number of employees, it is the largest public company in Sweden. Finland should go in the same direction,” Haatainen said.

The most important reform of the proposal would entail the founding of a new business operator to employ people with partial work ability. The Finnish model would combine work in an employment relationship and services required by the jobseeker based on their work abilities.

The model proposed by Mäkinen would solve the main obstacles to the employment of people with partial work ability:

•    Even though the need for services among people with partial work ability is common, it often goes unrecognised, and the existing services usually do not relate to working life.
•    The demand for labour among people with partial work ability is not as high as among other jobseekers. This is due to discrimination and inadequate services offered to employers, in part.  

Intermediate labour market would have a complementary role

Reforms to improve the employment of people with partial work ability have already been launched in the Government’s working capacity programme. These include developing employment services, introducing conditions on employment in public procurement projects, and developing the operating conditions of social enterprises.

Mäkinen’s proposal emphasises that the new intermediate labour market operator must complement the existing employment services. It is not the intention of the new intermediate labour market to employ people who could be employed elsewhere. The new operator and the public support it receives also should not distort competition.

According to Minister Haatainen, it is also important that the expertise of organisations, foundations and associations is utilised in creating the Finnish intermediate labour market.

The Employment and Economic Development Offices (TE Offices) would direct jobseekers to the new intermediate labour market operator, which would have three tasks:

1.    ensure and complement the services offered to people with partial work ability who are in the most disadvantageous position,
2.    employ people with partial work ability who are in the most disadvantageous position, and
3.    organise the employment of groups with a high employment threshold elsewhere.

“In order for the Finnish model to be successful, it is important we reach a situation in our society where different communities and companies want to bear their social responsibility by employing people with partial work ability who are in a disadvantaged position,” said rapporteur Hannu Mäkinen.

The Government’s reform of employment policy has three parts. One of them involves municipal experiments and the transfer of employment services to the local level. The second part builds a Nordic model of close and individual employment services with a reasonable system of sanctions. The creation of an intermediate labour market as proposed by Mäkinen would form the third part of Finland’s new employment policy.

Inquiries:
Timo Nevaranta, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 50 5741 430
Hannu Mäkinen, Rapporteur, Director General, Customs, tel. +358 40 332 2215, hannu.makinen(at)tulli.fi
Kimmo Ruth, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 396 0275, kimmo.ruth(at)tem.fi

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