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Minister of Employment Haatainen: Young people’s voices must be heard in discussion on the EU and working life

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 21.9.2021 15.48 | Published in English on 23.9.2021 at 12.06
News item

On 20 September 2021, Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen listened to the views of Vantaa upper secondary students on future working life. The discussion centred on young people’s wellbeing and equal opportunities to study and work in the EU. The event was part of the Government’s “We are Europe” tour.

Of the upper secondary school students participating in the event, 44 had answered a questionnaire about their thoughts, which served as a basis for the discussion. According to the survey, young people are fairly confident about the future working life. For them, pay, success and reconciling work with leisure time are the most important issues of the future working life.

Concerns over wellbeing during studies and at work

“I think more attention should be paid to coping at work so that nobody has to face the risk of a burnout,” said Anni Juulia Tuominen, a student at Sotunki upper secondary school.

Minister of Employment Haatainen also emphasised the importance of wellbeing. She mentioned the European Parliament’s initiative on the right of employees to disconnect from work outside their working hours. Haatainen hopes that the discussion on the matter will continue both at the EU level and in Finland.

“If work is on your mind all the time and you are always available, you’ll exhaust yourself. I know that myself and it is important to draw the line somewhere. For me, this may be easier because I am of the older generation that was not born with a mobile phone in my hand,” Haatainen said.

Wellbeing is something we should all pay attention to even before we start to work. The minister was asked how the Government supports young people during and after the coronavirus crisis.

“The Government is particularly concerned about young people and how they are managing during this time. We want to alleviate the situation through a number of measures. For example, we have increased resources at TE Offices and Ohjaamo service points so that they can help young people better. Ohjaamo service points can be accessed at a low threshold. They are places where young people can easily find answers to any questions they may have. Even short-term therapy is available for those feeling anxious about life,” Haatainen added.

More use of the opportunities offered in the EU

According to young people, education, traineeships and work in another EU Member State should be made as simple as possible. Qualifications received elsewhere should be recognised and opportunities should be open to everyone, regardless of the young person’s financial means.

Risto Rajala, President of JEF Finland (Young European Federalists), referred to a new EU programme that the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen mentioned in a recent speech. The ALMA programme would provide young people with an opportunity to gain work experience in another Member State. It would be a kind of Erasmus programme for working life. 

“When preparing the ALMA programme, it is important to make sure that people with all kinds of backgrounds can make use of the opportunities offered in the EU. My impression is that the programme is headed towards that direction, in fact,” Rajala said.

“I encourage you to be mobile and take advantage of the opportunities that the EU offers. Education, traineeships and work abroad always bear fruit and they have broad appeal in working life,” Haatainen said.

Different paths to dream work

Saana Ylikruuvi, student representative at Akava (Central Organisation of Professional Associations in Finland) and Sonja Tikkanen, vice chair of STTK Students (Finnish Confederation of Professionals), told the audience that based on their own experiences life sometimes takes another turn than originally planned. It is important to study a field that interests you.

“Expertise in digitalisation and climate change will certainly be in demand in future and there will be plenty of jobs available in the care sector,” said Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Member of the European Parliament.
“Learning cannot be separated from work anymore, because new skills are continuously needed in working life.

Education must therefore be seen as a lifelong project,” Haatainen added.

Young people’s thoughts to be heard in discussion on the EU

The discussion between the Minister of Employment and the upper secondary school students in Vantaa was part of the Government’s “We are Europe” tour. This autumn and winter, ministers will tour Finland to listen to people’s ideas and hopes for the future of Europe. The tour is part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The citizens’ messages will be passed on as part of an EU-level discussion on what kind of Europe we want to build.

More information:
Iiris Niinikoski, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 295 047 372 
Leila Vilhunen, Chief Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 120