Unemployment mitigation must aim at increasing people’s happiness, according to panellists at SuomiAreena
The mitigation of unemployment must focus on making people happier, not serving the needs of the system,” the panellists agreed. The panel discussion at SuomiAreena also stressed that work is needed to remove the shame associated with unemployment.
The YTK Association held a panel discussion at SuomiAreena on Thursday, 14 July on the topic “Persistent unemployment calls for agile solutions”. The panellists were Centre Party MP Hilkka Kemppi, consultant and researcher Mikko Leskelä, and Managing Director Auli Hänninen and Chair of the Board Mikko-Pekka Hanski representing YTK.
The premise for the discussion was the observation that Finnish unemployment is fragile and persistent. Compared to similar economies such as the Nordic countries and Germany, unemployment in Finland rises rapidly during a recession and decreases relatively slowly as the economy grows. A high base rate of unemployment has slowly become a permanent part of Finnish society, and even labour shortages do not seem to improve the persistently high unemployment.
A happy person is capable of fearless decisions
The discussion delved into the topic beyond euros and statistics, and brought up optimism and happiness as ways for implementing fearless solutions. The panellists agreed that unemployed people need to be able to believe in themselves and their opportunities.
“Reducing the stigma associated with unemployment would be a radical solution. We need to make unemployed people feel less uncomfortable, not more,” said consultant and researcher Mikko Leskelä.
“Every case of unemployment is unique. We need solutions that increase the number of people who are able to work. We have a lot of mental health issues that are the underlying cause in many cases of work incapability,” noted Centre Party MP Hilkka Kemppi.
“Are our services designed to help people or society? Certainly, unemployment services have all kinds of systemic rigidities. The goal should be happier people who are able to act without fear and flexibly,” said Mikko Pekka Hanski, Chair of the YTK Association’s Board of Directors.
“A happy person is a goal that is very easy to agree with. When it comes to reforms, small steps are preferable. A more flexible way of combining work and unemployment security would be a small but positive step towards happier people,” said Auli Hännen, Managing Director of YTK.
Unemployment funds could help share the load
The panellists also made a comparison between unemployment security and the pension system. Pension insurance companies are allowed to provide services that improve their customers’ work capability whereas unemployment funds do not currently have the right to provide employment services to their members.
“Unemployment funds are prohibited by law from helping unemployed people find work. Giving funds the right to provide employment services would help both their customers and society as a whole,” Auli Hänninen pointed out.