Will the service centres brighten the future of the unemployed?

Copyright: Päivi Kapiainen-Heiskanen

Etelä-Savo (Southern Savo) located in Lakeland Finland is a beautiful area for holiday-makers in the summer but not that promising a place to live for a long-term unemployed jobseeker. The region faces high long-term unemployment levels and an increasing migration problem. Many jobseekers are middle-aged with a lack of proper education and social problems, such as alcohol or mental disorders. Therefore a new concept of service centres has been developed taking advantage of the Objective 1 programme.

A year ago four centres were formed in Pieksämäki, Juva, Savonlinna and Mikkeli to provide an individually tailored service to match the needs of the long-term unemployed jobseekers in today's employment market. The results are encouraging although the project is still at its early days.

Savonlinna centre exceeds expectations
Project manager Arja Koli is happy to disseminate the results. First year targets have been exceeded and the response from the business community has been encouraging. Half of the jobs were found in the private sector.

There has been a flood of customers to the centres
There has been no real need to attract customers and companies. Noticing the benefits, they are contacting the centres, comments EU coordinator Matti Lappalainen from Employment and Economic Development Center of Southern Savo.

The centres are receiving Objective 1 funding until 2006, at which time they are expected to be self sustaining. To disseminate the concept, the Regional Council of Southern Savo and the Employment and Economic Development Centre of Southern Savo are represented at the Employment Week 2001 Fair in Brussels.