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Only one in four Finns finds employment by applying for a vacancy

A Sitra survey reveals the real state of the Finnish job market.


Jobs are less and less often found by responding to job advertisements, which makes networks and initiative invaluable when job-seeking. Although Finns recognise the importance of networking, only six per cent consider it a personal strength. This information was gathered in an extensive working life survey commissioned by Sitra, which also surveyed the attitude of Finnish people to the future of work and what they would be prepared to sacrifice if the chips were down.

Less than a quarter (23 per cent) of Finns found their current job by applying for a vacancy, while around 70 per cent found work through other channels, according to Sitra’s “Capabilities required by new work and routes to working life” survey. One fifth of the respondents had approached their current employer on their own initiative, and one fifth had been offered a job. Less than a tenth of those employed had found a job through public employment services.

“Efficient job-seeking is a multi-channel process, since employers also use networks when recruiting and value an active approach to job-seeking. In other words, employment policy should be reconsidered by rethinking how best to match work with employees in our changed labour market,” says Mikko Hyttinen, Senior Lead at Sitra.

Creativity, empathy and networking skills worth their weight in gold

Finns view former work experience and performance, professional skills, and factors related to personality and motivation as the key factors in gaining a job themselves. More than half of the respondents consider reliability, a good attitude and diligence as strengths – the same characteristics that are emphasised in many other surveys. On the other hand, characteristics such as creativity, empathy and networking skills come bottom of the list.

“Only six per cent of the respondents consider networking skills as a strength,” says Hyttinen. “This is a very low figure considering that the future labour market will favour skills that cannot be replicated by machines and robots – such as creativity, interaction and networking. We would therefore be justified in asking how far the current strengths of Finnish employees will carry them in the labour market.”

Skill development is advisable: respondents who actively use networks say that they clearly benefit from them. More than 80 per cent believed that networking had helped them succeed in working life.

People concerned about the future of work – unemployment expected to rise

Digitisation and globalisation are transforming work and the labour market in many ways: traditional tasks are disappearing, new professions are emerging and working practices are becoming more versatile since work is no longer as tied to a specific time or place.

Finns are pondering the future of work and their views reflect both concern about, and confidence in, the future. While 70 per cent of the respondents believe that Finnish unemployment will continue to rise, somewhat paradoxically around the same percentage think that their line of work will survive the transition.

Half of the respondents suspect that too little new work will emerge to replace disappearing professions, whereas one third disagree with this. One third of the respondents consider it likely that they will change professions.

If the situation so required, more than half would be prepared to make compromises on work arrangements, duties or job content. Some 30 per cent would certainly or almost certainly also be flexible about pay or the form of employment. However, the location of work is of huge importance to Finns: only around every fifth respondent would be prepared to be flexible on this issue. People are prepared to travel to work to a certain extent, but not to move.

Satisfaction still leads to longevity

Two out of three employed people would be willing to change jobs. Sixteen per cent of the respondents are actively seeking a new job. Half of them could consider changing job if they happened to come across a suitable position; the potential to take on new challenges and more meaningful duties was a key motivation. A higher salary would motivate around a third of potential job changers.

“Mobility in the labour market is advantageous for both individuals and the economy in a number of ways. It grows intellectual capital and feeds creativity and problem-solving capabilities. In turn, these are the key factors behind new innovations and competitiveness,” Hyttinen points out.

Regardless of the wish to change jobs, Finnish people tend to stay put for a long time: half of the respondents had held the same job for more than five years, and a third for over 10 years. This low turnover rate is probably partly explained by the fact that Finns are relatively satisfied with their work: more than 60 per cent are either satisfied or very satisfied with their current jobs.

“It is vital that people foster and refresh their skills. You should also draw up a back-up plan, even if you have a job. This will help you to consider areas where you could systematically develop yourself and your own career path,” suggests Hyttinen.

Sitra’s “Capabilities required by new work and routes to working life” survey was performed in December 2015, with more than 5,000 Finns responding to it. IRO Research Oy carried out the survey.


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