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Hundreds of Ukrainians in seasonal work may soon face unemployment

Many Ukrainians employed in seasonal work on berry farms across Finland may need to look for new jobs once summer ends.

Ukrainian seasonal workers planting strawberry plants in Suonenjoki in May. Image: Marianne Mattila / Yle

TE employment offices across Finland are preparing for an autumn rush as many Ukrainians currently employed in seasonal work will see their contracts end in August and September.

For instance, hundreds of Ukrainians who fled the war to Finland have been working on berry farms in North Karelia and North Savo.

There are currently 160 Ukrainians registered as unemployed job seekers in North Karelia. The number has increased at a rate of about ten per week over the summer.

Anu Huotari, service director for the North Karelia TE Office, said that the office is preparing for the possibility that the number of Ukrainian job seekers in the region may soon increase significantly.

Lessons learned from 2015

North Savo's situation is very similar to that of North Karelia. During the summer, hundreds of Ukrainians worked on berry farms in Suonenjoki.

North Savo TE Office service director Päivi Halonen said it was unclear how many Ukrainians would be offered farm work this fall.

The office might need to increase its resources if the number of jobseekers increases significantly after the seasonal work ends. It is possible that the situation will be similar to the pressure experienced by TE offices during the refugee crisis in 2015. That year, received a record number of asylum seekers, totalling around 32,500.

Halonen, however, said the office is already prepared for the rapid increase in foreign job seekers.

"Fortunately, we have experience with such situations after 2015 and 2016," Halonen said.

15.37: Corrected spelling of Huotari and added 2015 statistic.