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OECD: Health most common barrier to employment in Finland

Over a quarter of jobless people had given up looking for work – and most of these live in rural areas, researchers say.

Employment and Economic Development (TE) Offices such as this one try to match jobseekers with open positions. Image: Antti Haanpää / Yle
Yle News

Health is the most common barrier to employment in Finland, according to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The intergovernmental organisation estimates that nearly half of jobless people in the country have health issues that restrict their employment opportunities.

A larger share of Finland’s jobless reported poor health as a barrier to employment than in most other OECD member states. The group includes 37 industrialised nations.

Role of mental health needs more study

The study, published on Thursday, focused on people aged 17-64 in Finland in 2017. Of the respondents, 27 percent said they faced job market difficulties. Most of these did not work at all during that year, while nine percent were only tenuously attached to the labour market.

"Compared to other OECD countries, a large proportion of Finland’s jobless report poor health as a barrier to employment. Further work will be needed to unpack what is going on here, in particular the role played by mental health," said OECD economist and researcher Emily Farchy.

Just over a quarter of unemployed people had given up looking for work – and most of these live in rural areas, researchers say.

28% cite non-labour income

Besides the 45 percent of respondents who cited health limitations as a reason for unemployment, 30 percent simply said that their job searches had been unsuccessful. Slightly fewer, 28 percent, pointed to "the availability of significant non-labour incomes," according to the report.

Meanwhile nearly 70 percent of jobseekers face more than one employment barrier at the same time. Among the long-term unemployed, who have been out of work for a year or more, the figure rises to 87 percent. Almost 40 percent of jobseekers say they face three or more barriers simultaneously.

Therefore, resolving one problem is not likely to resolve their unemployment situation.

"Especially in the context of the current crisis, it is essential that employment support is equally well targeted, and adapted to the multiple barriers that jobless people face," said Stefano Scarpetta, the OECD's Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs.

The study, entitled "Faces of Joblessness", was commissioned by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

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