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Employment minister plans to boost work-related immigration

A focus on education will also form part of the government's plan to increase the employment rate to 75 percent.

Tutkimusjohtaja Heikki Räisänen (vas.) ja työministeri Timo Harakka työ- ja elinkeinoministeriön tiedotustilaisuudessa työllisyydestä Helsingissä 23. heinäkuuta 2019.
Research Director Heikki Räisänen (left) and Minister of Employment Timo Harakka at a press conference on employment in Helsinki. Image: Laura Ukkonen / Lehtikuva

Minister of Employment Timo Harakka outlined the government's plans to increase employment in Finland at a press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Antti Rinne's government has set a target of increasing the employment rate to 75 percent during its term in office. Reaching that goal will require the creation of approximately 60,000 new jobs, which may prove especially challenging in a period of sluggish economic growth.

Speaking at the press conference, the newly-appointed minister of employment offered a carrot instead of a stick.

He said more funding will be made available to employment offices, and initiatives aimed at increasing work-related immigration will be introduced. Employment services will especially focus on supporting young people, immigrants and those who are only able to work part-time, according to Harakka.

The minister further outlined how one of the first steps the government will take in the autumn will be to simplify wage subsidy conditions. He also emphasized the important role that municipalities and cities can have in improving employment.

"We are now in a position to look at the best way successful municipal experiments can be duplicated and form part of a permanent system during this term," Harakka said.

The minister also mentioned the extension of the compulsory education age as an important factor in raising the employment rate, although its effects will not be visible in the short term.

“However, the impact of extending compulsory schooling is undeniable in the long run,” Harakka stated.

The employment rate in June was 72.4 percent, while the seasonally and randomly adjusted unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.

Ministerial working group to meet on Friday

At the end of June, the TE-offices, Finland's personal employment and business services department, had a total of 254,200 registered unemployed jobseekers, which is 18,600 less than the same time a year ago.

While speaking at the press conference on Tuesday, Harakka did not comment on how many of these unemployed people are likely to obtain jobs through the measures now being presented.

This will put greater pressure on tripartite negotiations, where social partners hammer out labour deals with the government.

During this parliamentary term, the Ministerial Working Group appointed in July will be responsible for the area of employment, and the group will meet for the first time this coming Friday.

The working group will form sub-groups, and will invite the social partners to select their representatives for negotiations by next week.

The rate of employment in Finland is constantly tracked, and consiered a key factor in measuring the success or failure of each government's employment initiatives.

The previous government led by Juha Sipilä achieved its target of a 72 percent employment rate at the end of last year.

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