Unemployed jobseekers in Finland must meet the new requirements in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits.
From Monday 2 May, the jobseeker is obliged to apply for at least four jobs a month and to meet with an adviser from the Employment and Economic Development Office every two weeks.
The purpose of regular meetings is to help counselors get to know their clients better, which could speed up getting a job. Timo Melingsenior adviser to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Labor.
Previously, job seekers had to meet with their counselor after two weeks of applying for unemployment and every three months thereafter.
Now the first meeting is scheduled five days after the application, and subsequent meetings every couple of weeks for three months.
Finland has struggled with persistent unemployment figures in recent years. In March, however, there were 77,000 more employed than in the corresponding month a year ago, according to recent data published by Statistics Finland on Monday.
Meanwhile, the trend in the employment rate was 73.3 per cent in March and the trend in the unemployment rate 6.6 per cent. In other words, compared to March 2021, there were more employed and fewer unemployed this year.
Meetings and applications
If getting a job has proven unsuccessful after three months of searching and meeting, negotiations will intensify, Meling said.
Jobseekers now also have to apply for at least four jobs a month, but Meling says there are several exceptions to the new rule.
"There are a number of exceptions to this, such as taking into account the weak labor market situation if there are no jobs available or a major problem causing the jobseeker’s incapacity for work," he said.
The biggest difference between the new requirements is that job seekers choose for themselves which job they are applying for. In the past, they had to apply for jobs offered by the employment office to continue receiving unemployment benefits, Meling explained.
Another major change in the new arrangements relates to periods when job seekers are not entitled to benefits. In the past, they could lose them immediately if they broke the rules once.
But in the future, people will not lose their benefits after the first breach of the rules, but will be sent a reminder to follow them.
Meling said this will prevent anyone from losing benefits due to an honest mistake.
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Employment agency rentals
The TE Offices have hired about 1,200 new advisors to help implement the new arrangement.
The ministry hopes the initiative will help get 10,000 more people into work and save the state coffers around € 140 million by 2025.
However, the executive director of the Unemployment Association Jukka Haapakoskitold Yle she was skeptical about how much help the new guidelines really offer job seekers.
"The biggest benefit could be that you can find a job faster, but that doesn’t change how many jobs are available. As it may not be very realistic," Haapakoski said, adding that some may find it difficult to apply for four jobs a month.
However, according to Haapakoski, one good aspect of the arrangement is the increase in employment counselors. Although he is not sure if 1,200 are really enough.
He also said he thinks the new model is too intense and demanding. He also wonders about the situation of the long-term unemployed, given that the focus of the new arrangement is so heavily on those who have only recently become unemployed.
According to Haapakoski, only eight percent of those who have been unemployed for more than a year now use TE offices. He said that courses and training for the long-term unemployed should be provided more systematically and effectively.
Despite his doubts, Haapakoski said he was satisfied with the shorter waiting times for the new model and that the benefits would not be cut off due to the jobseeker’s first mistake. Until now, a simple mistake could result in the loss of benefits for three months.
"In the worst case, it can lead to mental health problems when you are completely worried about your financial situation," he explained.
The changes in the employment office also extend to their online visibility. Now jobseekers are now directed to the address instead of the old mol.fi website Labor market.
Source: The Nordic Page