Finland’s lost generation

There are 30,000 young adults aged 15 – 24 in Finland who have only completed their basic education, and who have not completed military service, tertiary education or even had a job. In many cases authorities don’t even know they exist.

Image: Yle / Sarah Laukkanen

Only about one-third of Finland’s lost generation of 30,000 are jobless and looking for work; the rest exist completely outside the workforce. Because they have not even registered as out-of-work jobseekers, they leave no tracks for authorities to follow.

Apart from these individuals, more than 15,000 Finns between the ages of 16 and 24 are officially retired. One of them is 22-year old Iitu Murtola, who enrolled in a vocational programme after she completed his basic education.

“I was there to study for a year on the car mechanics side, as I wanted to become a mechanic. It came to an end after six months. I haven’t done anything like that since,” Murtola explained.

Murtola’s studies came to an end because of a chronic illness. She had been diagnosed with depression in secondary school and suffered a serious psychotic episode at the age of 17. She is now receiving rehabilitative treatment, making music and hopes to receive a care sector qualification in the future.

“If you want to use the word marginalised, then yes, I am marginalised. I have thought that for a long time. And unfortunately the term marginalised can be used to describe me,” Murtola said.

The focus on Finland’s invisible generation is part of an Yle campaign to provide 10,000 places to displaced youth for work, apprenticeship positions or on-the-job training and to activate adults to volunteer to help them.