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Thursday's papers: Pandemic exhaustion, redundancies risk, education reform

The morning's newspapers look at how furloughs risk turning into mass-redundancies unless the pandemic situation eases.

Epätoivoinen nainen pitää käsiä kasvoillaan
A survey commissioned by daily Helsingin Sanomat found 'pandemic fatigue' is affecting many people in Finland. Image: vmaslova / Shutterstock

People in Finland are getting tired and feeling frustrated by coronavirus restrictions, reports Helsingin Sanomat. The country's biggest daily asked over 1,800 people their thoughts on life in the pandemic.

The survey gives an indication of how people are feeling at the moment, and how they are coping with the pandemic restrictions.

"The questionnaire responses mention depression, anxiety and separation from a spouse, but these adversities are part of everyday life," says Meri Larivaara, Director of Mieli Mental Health Finland.

According to Larivaara, the responses so far have been submitted by mainly average citizens, who do not have major issues in their lives. The responses do not mention death, alcohol abuse, violence or severe mental health issues, for example.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat also reports on the pandemic's effects from the viewpoint of university students. Instead of enjoying an exciting new stage in their lives, many students have reported feeling lonely and exhausted, while grieving the opportunities they are missing out on.

Furloughs risk turning into redundancies

Furloughed employees will face redundancies unless we return back to normal as soon as possible, reports business magazine Talouselämä. According to Akava trade union confederation, there are 70,000 furloughed employees in the country.

"If the pandemic continues much longer, companies will start to run into problems, which could lead to furloughs turning into redundancies. The record-number of furloughed staff is indicative of the uncertain times we live in," says Akava Chief Economist, Pasi Sorjonen.

At the end of December, there were 270,000 unemployed jobseekers in Finland, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

The trade union confederation stated it is important to get people back into work now. The chief economist said the best way to make this happen would be a quick and efficient vaccination programme that would ensure a return to normal.

Secondary education reform will bring students to the capital

According to Helsingin Sanomat, the extension of compulsory schooling age to 18 means many high school students will be flocking to the capital for their education.

The decision made by MPs at the end of last year to make secondary education entirely free of charge means students will in future not have to provide their own textbooks, and those having to travel more than seven kilometres to school will no longer have to pay for their travel.

The city of Helsinki estimates roughly 3,100 students will be starting high school next autumn. At the moment, there are approximately 2,700 places. The city of Helsinki has stated there should be enough places in high school for 60 percent of each age cohort.

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