Finland has far too many people out of work. This has already lasted far too long and dates back to the financial crisis 10 years ago. The unemployment rate has fallen but participation in the labour market is still relatively low at around 70%. Given Finland’s high level of literacy and its excellent free education system, we should be seeing an employment rate of some 80% of the potential workforce. Our generous welfare system cannot support the current low levels of employment.
Some reforms have now been implemented but the biggest reforms remain to be proposed and implemented:
We need to see more reforms in education to train people for jobs.
We need to reform the labor market to allow companies to fix their own wage agreements in place of the present agreements decided upon by the trade unions and the employers’ unions.
We need to reform the whole process of the long 100 to 150 page collective agreements that set out detailed work conditions for whole groups of employees. The present setup is not suited to today’s global markets.
We also need to ensure greater female participation in the workforce. There has been a recent proposal to reduce the time and money available for female parental leave, while at the same time allowing men to take over more extended periods of parental leave.
Present and past governments all agree that childcare at professionally managed kindergartens is more effective for a child’s early development than the present system where mothers or untrained carers look after the very young at home.
Unfortunately this proposal has not been accepted by the Centre Party because of traditional (religious) beliefs that home is the best place for child care, together with a fear that further reductions in child benefits will not be supported by their voter base. So much for their determination to reduce female unemployment!
The Conservative Party has been a strong supporter of this proposal and it appears that there was significant in-house fighting between the 2 main parties regarding this reform.
The election is just one year away and things look bad for the present coalition. Labor unrest, fast changes in the polls and the complete absence of any voter support for the mutineering Future Blue Party has eaten away voter support for this government.
The present Prime Minister, Mr. Sipilä, is seen as a weak leader who fumbles through things without proper planning and without showing any keen political instinct. He will almost certainly be replaced by his party before April 2019. At the moment, it appears that the Conservative Party, the Greens, and the Social Democrats are strong enough to form a new coalition government after the 2019 elections.
They Conservatives especially have enjoyed being in the limelight as a result of 2 prominent former Conservative Party members successes. Mr. Vapaavuori’s received a landslide election victory to be Mayor of Helsinki, and Mr. Niinistö also was elected as Finland’s president after winning easily the first round of the presidential elections with a huge majority.