The labour market and attitudes have changed in Finland

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 29.4.2019 14.26 | Published in English on 29.4.2019 at 14.38
Press release

More and more people with partial work ability are finding jobs now. Since 2015 the number of unemployed persons with partial work ability has decreased by 30.2%.

As many as 1.9 million Finns of working age have some type of disability or chronic disease. A third of them, or about 600,000 persons, find that the disease or disability affects their work or work opportunities. 

The number of people with partial work ability is estimated to rise as the population ages.

For these reasons, past Finnish Governments have launched programs in order to find solutions to keep people with disabilities at work or find employment for them. These efforts have been highly successful and since 2015 the number of unemployed persons with partial work ability has decreased by 30.2%. The number of long-term unemployed people with partial work ability has decreased as well.

At present, there are 12,000 less unemployed jobseekers with partial work ability than at the start of the year 2015. This alone will generate direct savings of EUR 100 million per year as unemployment costs are reduced. 

The increased consumption creates indirect economic benefits, such as new jobs, increased tax revenue and reduced health and social expenditure.

How was this change achieved?

Continuity brings results

Employment for people with partial work ability was included in the goals of the two most recent Governments: results and experiences from a programme under this theme during the governmental term 2012–2015 were utilised in 2016–2018 by a Government key project called ‘Career opportunities for people with partial work ability’ (OTE key project). 

The success of the OTE key project shows that  continuity is necessary in development work. The most important objectives and measures of the key project were based on earlier validated measure recommendations and research data.

Services should be made familiar and brought into effective use

The Finnish services system is fragmented, which is a challenge. Health and social services and employment services are operating separately, as do services concerning social welfare, rehabilitation and education. This may lead to situations where the client falls in between and does not receive the services he or she needs.

The OTE project provided an online service that includes all information related to employment of people with partial work ability: allowances, benefits, legislation and services. The online service is intended for professionals working in the service system as well as for employers and job seekers.

Work capacity coordinators are an important user group for the service. Almost 700 work capacity coordinators were trained during the key project. Work capacity coordinators are experts in both health and social services and employment services. They coordinate services in accordance with their client’s needs. 

The OTE project also developed a new low threshold service: activities centres that are information and service offices open for all. The centres provide support and guidance for persons whose work ability is weakening. Activities centres can be visited without any referral from a doctor.

Read the final report of OTE key project:


OTE key project in a nutshell

  • The OTE key project included eight subprojects linked with each other. Two of the subprojects also carried out 12 regional experiments. 
  • The project group included a project director and a project manager. Each subproject also had a leader and each regional experiment had a coordinator.
  • A steering group led by the Minister of Social Affairs and Health was guiding and monitoring the development of the key project.
  • The project group made decisions on operational activities.
  • The total costs were about EUR 11.5 million, and regional experiments were granted government aid totalling about EUR 7.2 million.

For further information, please contact

Dr Päivi Mattila-Wiro, Project leader of the OTE key project, [email protected]