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Government tries to implement zero tolerance policy towards
youth unemployment


Helsinki (30.09.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Finnish six-party coalition government is taking an ambitious stance towards youth unemployment. The goal is to get rid of it! This has been clearly outlined in the government programme and its implementation was launched last Monday, when the "youth social guarantee" task force was officially named and given wings.

The promise or guarantee is to offer every young person below 25 years of age and every recent graduate below 30 years of age, either a job, place to study, apprenticeship or rehabilitation. And the aim is for this to happen within three months from the beginning of the unemployment. The system should be functioning properly and smoothly by 2013.

Minister of Labour, Lauri Ihalainen, regards this reform as the most important one in his area of responsibility. And, this is something very familiar and close to Ihalainen’s heart as he has promoted the idea since the 1970s when he worked as youth secretary of the union confederation SAK and later on in other jobs at the SAK, before finally becoming President of the organization from 1990 to 2009.

Needless to say, the challenge is a huge one as there are some 30.000 unemployed people below the age of 25 years and a further 24.000 unemployed belonging to the age group from 25 to 29 years of age. Partly the problem reflects a lack of relevant education and training but not all of the factors contributing to youth unemployment are easily identified.

The ministry has received EUR60 million extra in order to implement this radical reform. Money will be used for example in so-called “searching youth activity” that offers individual services for unemployed young men and women. Last year this "searching youth activity" had established contact with almost 11.000 young unemployed. More than a fifth had not even registered themselves as unemployed. The number of employees in this activity will now be expanded significantly.

The task force responsible for preparing the ground for implementation of these reform measures will be made up of officials from various ministries, and representatives from labour market, youth, municipal and some other organizations.

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