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Steep rise in hard-to-fill job openings

This year more than 32,000 jobs, or two-thirds of vacancies, are considered difficult to fill.

Mies te-toimistossa.
Scanning the want ads at an employment office in Joensuu, eastern Finland. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Employers in Finland say some jobs remain difficult to fill despite improved employment levels.

As in recent years, the sectors with the biggest numbers of open positions were retail, transport and storage, accommodation and food services, says Minna Wallenius, a senior actuary at Statistics Finland. The biggest declines in vacancies were in manufacturing and other heavy industry as well as mining and quarrying.

In late summer and early autumn, there were 48,500 vacancies, about 1,500 more than a year earlier, according to the central statistics office.

More than 32,000 of these, or just over two-thirds, were classed by employers as being difficult to fill – but researchers don't know of any clear single reason for this.

That number was up by more than 5,000 compared to July-September 2018. Its share rose by 10 percentage points, from 57 percent in the third quarter of last year.

Construction, wholesale and retail were the sectors with the largest volume of hard-to-fill vacancies.

The proportion of jobs considered tough to fill was the highest since the statistics office began tracking this metric in 2013.

No clear reason

Before the current 67 percent level, the highest ever rate was 60 percent, says Wallenius.

"That share has risen in the past few years, while as the overall number of open positions has also grown," she tells Yle.

Wallenius said there is no clear reason why so many positions are now difficult to fill.

The figures are based on a survey of employers at some 2,500 workplaces around Finland.

"We don't ask employers exactly what kinds of difficulties they're having, or what they see as the reasons – whether it's because they haven't received applications, whether the applicants' know-how has not met their expectations, or whether it's related to other issues," she says.

Municipal openings double

The number of recruitment ads posted by municipalities almost doubled to 6,000.

The number of unfilled spots rose in Uusimaa, which includes the capital region, but dipped elsewhere in southern and western Finland. There was a slight increase in eastern and northern areas.

In the third quarter of this year, more than eight out of 10 job vacancies were at private companies, up slightly from a year earlier. Meanwhile the number of unfilled jobs declined at small workplaces with less than 10 employees but rose at larger ones. Nearly a quarter of open jobs were fixed-term positions, about the same as last year, while 18 percent were part-time jobs.

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