The implementation of the Project’s active inclusion model (inclusive labour markets pillar for unemployed persons) during the first 18 months (January 2019 - June 2020) highlights a set of key challenges and lessons, summarized briefly as follows:
(a) The COVID-19 crisis has created new risks for governments, regions and cities across Europe. Finland, Vantaa and its labour market could not be an exception.
Number of Finnish unemployed jobseekers nearly doubled in April 2020
Source: Employment Bulletin of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, May 2020
- A total of 433,100 unemployed jobseekers were registered at the Employment and Economic Development Offices at the end of April, showing a year-on-year increase of 203,400.
- The number of unemployed jobseekers increased by 124,000 from the previous month.
- The rapid increase in the number of unemployed jobseekers and particularly in the number of full-time lay-offs was due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
- At the end of April, the number of people laid off was 184,000 in the whole country; a year-on-year increase of 166,600.
- The number of people fully laid off equals 163,700, representing an increase of 152,100 from April the year before.
- The number of long-term unemployed — that is those who had been unemployed without interruption for more than a year — amounted to 67,400, up 4,300 on the previous year.
- The number of unemployed jobseekers aged over 50 was 141,500, representing an increase of 53,900 on the year before.
- The number of unemployed jobseekers aged under 25 was 56,300, representing an increase of 27,800 from April last year.
In addition to the tragic loss of human life, the pandemic is likely to increase poverty and inequality, with particularly adverse effects for older persons, persons with disabilities and chronic diseases, migrant workers and forcibly displaced people. There are signs however that, in spite of significant national measures, another group at high risk of poverty and social exclusion is having to decrease any possibility for standard employment and turn to means-tested, minimum-income-protection benefits: workers with non-standard contracts, freelancers, self-employed individuals. And many others, particularly long - term unemployed persons, will eventually deplete their entitlement to unemployment insurance and similar contributory benefits.
In this respect, Project Partners need - without abandoning the inclusive labour markets pillar of the Project - to discuss seriously the validity of the total employment indicator and seek:
- guidelines of International Organizations about the treatment of unemployed persons during the pandemic;
- international good practices about the performance of municipal active employment services during the pandemic.
(b) The design and use of a sound cooperative plan with main external public stakeholders was strongly beneficial, given that accurate public data on employment, unemployment and business development were taken fully into consideration. Project Partners tried to establish a new internal register for unemployed persons and companies but this process was not completed.
In this respect, Project Partners decided to consider a more realistic scenario that will take advantage of the existing municipal services: a new register supported by the Yritysohjaamo Service has been used since April 2020.
(c) The identification process of unemployed persons was based in principle on the analysis of existing public registries and data bases, as well as on meetings with specific Vantaa based civil society organizations. But given that unemployed persons are usually faced with other risks and problems (poverty, sickness, disability), it becomes clear that the active inclusion priorities of the Project could be strongly supported through the participation of the competent municipal agency (Vantaa Health and Social Welfare Department - https://www.vantaa.fi/organization/health_and_social_welfare_department) in the internal (city level) partnership structure.
In this respect, Project Partners need to discuss seriously the involvement of the Vantaa Health and Social Welfare Department during the next implementation phases, which might focus on two interrelated activities:
- identification and recruitment of disabled unemployed jobseekers;
- identification and development of vocational training courses for disabled low-skilled employees and employees with outdated skills.
(d) The design and use of recruitment services during the implementation of the first GSIP model “Need for Skilled Workforce” shed light to a rather common problem in national and local active employment programmes: the skill mismatch issue that results in different imbalances between skill supply and demand and is de facto influenced by the different phases of the economic cycle and by the relationships between different types of mismatch (Overeducation, Undereducation, Overqualification, Underqualification, Overskilling, Underskilling, Skill shortage, Skill surplus, Skill gap, Economic skills obsolescence, Physical obsolescence, Crowding out and Bumping down).
In this respect, Project Partners introduced during the test phase of the first GSIP model a job design service, which was strongly appreciated by participating companies, particularly because it was adapted to their real needs using a holistic approach to recruitment.
Figure: Four Elements of a Holistic Recruitment Strategy
This service helped them to find the right ways to recruit, which was a real incentive to move from abstarct planning recruiting. Companies were encouraged to searh for potential employees through complex channels, where information about unemployed and other special groups excluded from the labour market (i.e. migrants, disabled) is available. But they also need cost-effective tools to forecast their own skill needs more regularly and accurately, including spotting the differences between skill shortages and skill gaps.
(e) The provision of recruitment services during the implementation of the first GSIP model “Need for Skilled Workforce” was in principle promoted by the Project Partners themselves: one Project employee was charged with the recruitment process of unemployed persons and another one focused on crating apprenticeship opportunities. But Project Partners understood that this model was inadequate from time to time.
In this respect, Project Partners decided to consider a more horizontal coordination model between the recruiting service of the Project and the City of Vantaa Employment Service Center. This model will strengthen synergies and take advantage of the high experience and expertise that municipal Employment Services usually offer to the development of local jobs and skills agendas.
 Although the Finnish labour market is moving towards better integration of people with disabilities or chronic diseases (1.9 million Finns of working age have some type of disability or chronic disease), available data confirm that "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". See for further information D. Päivi Mattila-Wiro and R. Tiainen, Involving all in working life, Results and recommendations from the OTE Key Project ‘Career opportunities for people with partial work ability’, Reports and Memorandums of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health No. 27, Helsinki, 2019, available at: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-00-4058-1.
 Cedefop provides inter alia a basic distinction between ‘Vertical’ mismatch, commonly referred to as overeducation (it occurs when an individual is employed in a job which requires a lower level of education) and ‘Horizontal’ mismatch (when the type, rather than the level, of education or skills is inappropriate for the job). See Cedefop, Skill supply and demand in Europe - Medium-term forecast up to 2020, available at: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/publications/15540.aspx and Cedefop, The skill matching challenge - Analyzing skill mismatch and policy implications, available at: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/publications/15275.aspx.
 B. O’ Meara and S. Petzall, Handbook of Strategic Recruitment and Selection - A Systems Approach, Emerald Group Publishing, 2013.
 Service included a lot of valued discussion and thinking of how realistic or beneficial it is to employ different people, even with the match making problem existing.
 F. Froy and S. Giguère, “Putting in Place Jobs that Last - A Guide to Rebuilding Quality Employment at Local Level”, OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers, 2010/13, OECD Publishing, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5km7jf7qtk9p-en.