Young people have become the biggest surrogates of the crisis. Taking their needs into account now requires co-operation between services.
From the coronavirus crisis survival should be assessed in municipalities according to how well we are able to help young people. Instead of adding new projects or experiments, we need network-like collaboration between different services.
Young people have become the biggest surrogate victims of the coronavirus era. Once at-risk groups have been protected, young people have suffered disproportionately from the consequences of the crisis and their prospects have deteriorated.
The connection with peers, which is essential for the growth and development of young people, was broken when distance education was introduced in educational institutions. At the same time, the hobbies of the young people also came to an end. Coronavirus time has increased young people’s mental health symptoms: as many as 75 percent of young people say the crisis has worsened their mental well-being.
Also the employment situation of young people deteriorated as a result of the crisis. Youth unemployment has increased by 30 per cent compared to the previous year. Of course, the situation may change rapidly as the epidemic eases, but before this and probably long after the epidemic, economic uncertainty will be reflected in the resilience of many young people.
The long-term costs to public finances are that, for one reason or another, young people do not get a job or education and are excluded. The negative effects of exclusion are repeated in society for decades.
The number of young people out of work and education has decreased in previous years. Coronavirus time may break a good trend. This also increases human suffering.
Young people have had to make career and lifelong choices in exceptional circumstances where the social support and guidance provided by society has been inadequate.
The face-to-face encounters of young people were already declining anyway, but many services for young people also became completely online. According to the latest Youth Barometer, more than 60% of young people hope that face-to-face meetings in youth services will not be completely replaced by electronic contact.
The movement of young people in public services, and especially between them, still takes up time and resources for both young people and professionals in many municipalities. Studies show that low-threshold cross-sectoral services are more conducive to employment than traditional employment services. Diversity is a cost-effective and efficient way for municipalities to provide services. It would therefore be important for municipalities to take responsibility for coordinating multidisciplinary services for young people.
The development of multidisciplinary services has been trendy in recent years. For example, in the Cabins for people under the age of 30, young people receive information, advice and guidance on employment, training and welfare issues at a low threshold, according to their needs. In practice, the cab’s services consist of basic services in various administrative sectors and an extensive co-operation network.
Now, above all, municipalities need network-based cooperation between services so that the needs of young people are taken into account holistically. The young person should not have to drift aimlessly between services. This is more important than any new project or experiment.
Through networking between authorities and a well-functioning multidisciplinary service, young people can access the help they need more quickly and their path to working life will be shortened. At the same time, legislation must address the challenges of data transfer and ensure the timely flow of information between services.
Decreasing In Finland, the municipalities of the age groups cannot afford any marginalized young people, as the labor market of the future needs every expert. Unfortunately, young people are now less well placed in the labor market than older age groups.
Municipalities should invest in the post-pandemic period, especially for young people. The investment pays for itself in tax money when the young person gets caught up in education and work.
Katja Asikainen and Pasi Savonmäki
Asikainen is an advocacy expert in the Finnish youth umbrella organization Alliance. Savonmäki is the project manager of the Kohtaamo project, which coordinates the cab operations.
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