We talk about a change in unemployment. What do we really mean?

Lauri Hannus, Communications Manager

Unemployment is still easily seen as an individual's characteristic and fault, even though it is a social phenomenon. Unemployment has also changed, and at the latest now, perceptions on it have to be changed.

The #tämäkinvätystässä PR campaign that is launched today is attempting to break myths and to revamp the outdated views on unemployment. As Finland's largest Unemployment Fund and with a community of over half a million members, we want to use our clout for a good cause and renew the talk around unemployment. 

That is to say, unemployment in Finland has changed, but conceptions on it are stuck in the past. That is why we brought world champion Petra Olli to the cover of Helsingin Sanomat, among other things, and to social media channels. To show that even the most gutsy of us can face unemployment, and how unnecessary and harmful negative talk about unemployed can be.   

The crisis has brought unemployment to the surface

At the beginning of the year, we finally became aware of the changing mental images. At that point, in cooperation with the artificial intelligence research company DrAi, we conducted a research that examined Twitter conversations around the topic of unemployment in Finland . The end result was not pretty to look at: in conversations on social media, unemployment was associated with a lot of degrading and invalidating speech. Too often, unemployed are talked about as being lazy and losers. 

We can do better than that. Especially in the deformed world of the coronavirus crisis where unemployment and layoffs have reached almost all conversations over coffee. The crisis brought unemployment to the surface, but as a phenomenon it is a solid part of our society: an inevitable byproduct of a system built on paid work. Even on its best days, the labour market does not employ all individuals of working-age. Nor does it work without the people looking for a job, whether it is a time of crisis or flourishing. Individuals can not be blamed for the flaws in the system, and vilifying an unemployed person is especially harmful.

Mental image on unemployment work outdated

The change in unemployment means that old mental images about on idle unemployed persons lining up do not apply anymore. Unemployment can certainly be difficult, hopeless and even long-lasting, but for more and more people it is becoming an active and animated time: looking for a new job, developing oneself and fine-tuning ones 's own skills.   

A big part of the current unemployed are working part-time, with a decreased working time due to layoff, working alongside sickness allowance or working part-time alongside retirement. Like that, for example. Moreover, the unemployed are not a standard group, but the crowd changes all the time. At YTK, the average duration of the unemployment period is approximately six months.

Thus, unemployment is diverse, just as is work. Unemployment can also be part of a very successful career.

It's about human dignity

The transformation of the concept of unemployment is, above all, a change in our attitudes. We cannot think of the unemployed as people who passively wait their turn under the nation's protection.  

We have to challenge ourselves to see value in a human and their potential. A person's current title or position in the labour market does not tell us everything. Finland is a small country that can only survive if each person is valued and involved in building the common good.  

Change starts with each one of us. What generalizations are you willing to overthrow? 

Lauri Hannus, Communications Manager

Lauri Hannus, Communications Manager at YTK, is looking for socially interesting perspectives on earnings-related security and employment. For Hannus, curiosity and openness are key resources. The feel of change in working life is personal to the communications professional of journalistic background.

In this blog, we are discussing the phenomena of unemployment security and working life. With these writings, we participate in the social debate and reflect on current events. The blog is not counselling. You can get advice on unemployment security from our customer service and in the Instructions and Support section.