Papers in Finland start off this Wednesday with coverage of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico Tuesday evening. Over 140 people are feared to have been killed as dozens of buildings crumbled. Less than two weeks ago, another quake killed at least 98 people in southern Mexico.
Continuing to domestic issues, the country's leading daily Helsingin Sanomat has a long feature story on day care workers. An Education Ministry study set to be published in the autumn found that 40 percent of day care workers in Finland are considering a career change because of the low pay and exhausting work.
Last week the same paper reported that Finnish day care instructors earn less than the OECD average: approximately 2,612 euros per month. Most day cares have additional staff without educator qualifications, and they are paid even less.
All preschool-aged children in Finland are entitled to day care, if they want it. Day cares throughout the country have been understaffed for a long time. In the capital city region alone, HS says there is a shortage of 600 employees, a number that drops to a few hundred in other cities.
Some blame the current situation on decisions made in the 2000s, when not enough university spots were made available to prospective students of early childhood education and care. Admission levels were increased in 2012, but it still wasn't enough to meet the need.
Better salaries would make all the difference
Last week, the ministry announced the creation of 1,000 new day care instructor study places. It also unveiled a new plan to classify educators who have graduated from universities separately from those who completed vocational schools, to make sure that each day care group has at least one university-trained instructor. The ministry bases this new idea on findings that 91 percent of the unfilled jobs are instructor positions.
Preschool education promotes growth, development, learning skills and equality and creates a strong foundation for later school success, HS writes, but Essi Isoaho from the Simonkylä day care centre in Vantaa feels as if her work isn't respected by Finnish society.
"You do wonder what kind of status we have if a competitiveness agreement can come along and take my accrued holiday pay. Low-income jobs that are dominated by women take the blow," she says.
Today's day cares have several languages and cultural backgrounds to contend with, along with growing numbers of children that need special help.
"Salary levels don't match the amount of work we do. We are in a customer service vocation. I personally wonder if simply raising the number of study spots is really going to encourage people to stay in this line of work?" says Isoaho.
Sales staff sees a rosy future
Next to a newspaper out of the west coast city of Pori Satakunnan kansa which highlights a survey of salespeople's views on the economy that was released today. It shows that sales and marketing professionals throughout the country feel that Finland's economic growth will continue robustly for the next 12 months. 71 percent believe sales will go up, while a further 67 percent think turnover will improve. These figures are a good 10 percent higher than responses to last year's barometer.
"The past year has given us trust in the future, and this favourable trend strengthens our activities," Marko Hovinmäki, chair of the Union of Sales and Marketing Professionals, tells the paper.
More than one-third of respondents to the barometer say their firm will probably take on more sales staff, while only 6 percent believe there will be personnel reductions.
Amongst all this positivity, however, a fear lurks: Every ninth sales or marketing professional that answered the survey feels that their job is not safe, as there is a risk of redundancies or layoffs.
Adding 3bn to the deficit
And from Oulu, the newspaper Kaleva talks about how Finland is set to take on more debt next year, as the government's 2018 budget proposal is 3 billion euros in the red. The paper says it seems likely that the budget will pass without any major changes, as the government coalition continues to hold a slight majority in the Parliament.
Finland's MPs are scheduled to debate the 55.7-billion-euro budget today in Helsinki. If they approve the budget, this year's tally will bring Finland's total deficit up to 110 billion euros, Kaleva writes.
The paper says today's discussion on the parliamentary floor is expected to circle around growing income disparity in Finland and the weakening status of low-income earners. The Finance Ministry estimated yesterday that the budget proposal would bring down the income of low-income households even further, while improving the lot of the top seven income brackets.