Programme for persons with partial work capacity investigates: Whatpromotes or prevents employment?

The programme for persons with partial work capacity in workinglife (Osku) is recognised for the wide range of tools it providesto support those persons with partial work capacity to continueworking or to find employment, but also for being fragmented andsporadically used.

The programme has tested an operating model where a person isappointed to assist persons with partial work capacity (workability coordinator), and works with those people to draw up a planof the tools needed to support employment. The work abilitycoordinator is responsible for the implementation of the plan.

The work ability coordinator is appointed by an employer, a TEOffice (employment service) or the occupational health service. Thework ability coordinator is familiar with the services provided forpeople with partial work capacity, benefits and other tools and isable to guide clients towards the appropriate set of supportmeasures. The operating model based on the use of a work abilitycoordinator is currently being tested at 12 workplaces.

Impact under the microscope

Nina Nevala The Osku programme research manager Nina Nevala has launched an investigation into theimpact of this operating model.

Nina, what are you investigating?

We are investigating the implementation of the new operatingmodel and its results at both the workplace and the individuallevel. We will find out how 12 different workplaces support thosecapable persons with partial work capacity to continue working orto find employment in practice, what kinds of good practices theyhave adopted, and what are the issues that prevent or promote theparticipation in working life of persons with partial workcapacity. We will also find out what kinds of impact the newoperating model has had on workplaces' key financialindicators.

In the research, we also describe the employment path of personswith partial work capacity and we will find out how those peopleexperience cooperating with a work ability coordinator.

You are not doing this research alone. Who else isinvolved?

Jarno Turunen, ‎Senior Specialist in Economics from the FinnishInstitute of Occupational Health, will carry out the financialimpact assessments. There are two people working on their theseswho are involved in the research: Sari Lehtinen is working on herthesis for the Turku School of Economics and Johanna Surakka isstudying at the University of Jyväskylä. In addition, all 12workplaces are actively involved in the research.

What research methods are you using?

We are using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.We carry out individual and group interviews, narrative casestudies and questionnaires, and we also collect various financialfigures from the organisations.

What are narrative case studies?

They are stories which describe the paths into employment ofpersons with partial work capacity. The stories are based oninterviews with those people themselves as well as with their workability coordinators and employers.

Where will the research findings be published and how willthey be used?

The research results will be published in internationalscientific journals, domestic professional journals and conferencepublications in the sector. The results will also be talked abouton the Programme for people with partial work capacity's web pagesand at various events.

The workplaces involved in the research are like test-beds whichtry out new working methods and look for good practice. Theworkplaces have agreed to make their experience and findingsavailable for everyone to use through the research. The researchwill also produce information and experience as to how the workability coordinators work in the Employment agency, personnelmanagement and in the occupational health service.

How will persons with partial work capacity themselvesbenefit from this research?

The research will generate new knowledge about successfulpractices which will support persons with partial work capacity tofind employment and continue working. First and foremost, theresults aim at benefitting persons with partial work capacity.

The research is practically focussed and will bring newinformation on many levels that will be used by workplaces,occupational health services, rehabilitation organisations, TEOffices, educational institutes and decision makers, etc.

What do you think now: is the model that has been developedin the Osku programme transferable into all otherworkplaces?

On the basis of the initial results it seems that the operatingmodel works well in TE Offices, companies' personnel management andthe occupational health service. In addition to the work capabilitycoordinators themselves, the same kind of coordination and clientadvisory work is also done by work capability advisors at theSocial Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), as well as by workcoaches in the municipalities and in the private and thirdsector.

In the case of unemployed persons with partial work capacity,the service is available from TE Offices and from Kela. For thosein work, they would usually have access to the services of workability coordinators from the occupational health service. Forsmall companies and entrepreneurs it is important to developregional ways of organising work ability coordinator services.