The Six City Strategy has promoted employment and competencies in the cities

A large group of young women, many of whom are wearing a yellow jacket with the text ‘Särkänniemi’. A happy atmosphere. Some have outstretched arms.

The Job Pathways Finland project developed with the Särkänniemi amusement park a model for recruiting seasonal employees among students. Photo: Särkänniemi.

6Aika projects have instilled in the big Finnish cities new methods for improving employment. Projects funded by the European Social Fund have involved more than 5,000 people and 600 companies.

“The Six City Strategy has involved extensive projects to promote employment,” says Jukka Anttila, an expert of Häme Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) who participated in the work of the 6Aika steering group.

In particular, the Six City Strategy has funded such employment projects that have sought solutions for companies’ recruitment needs, building employment channels and developing competencies that help jobseekers find work.

Anttila sees that the ones involving the entire employment ecosystem are the most significant. The employment ecosystem covers city operators, local education institutions, companies and third-sector operators, as well as ELY Centres, TE Offices, KELA and the various multidisciplinary service structures formed by them.

“All of these operators have directed jobseekers to the projects that have contributed to their employment,” Anttila adds.

Anttila highlights the Job Pathways Finland and Work Hub projects, which have developed low-threshold employment and economic development services through extensive cooperation with various operators of the city regions.

“Through this, operators have wanted to find new operating models and solutions for the challenges in developing competencies, solving discrepancies in the supply and demand of labour force and fragmented service selection. At the same time, the service needs of jobseekers, employers and other stakeholders have been taken into account.”

The influence of 6Aika visible in the local government pilots for employment

Cities and municipalities have an increasingly significant role to play in promoting employment. The cooperation between the operators in the employment ecosystem has become close thanks to the Six City Strategy.

The projects have also involved pilots where services related to employment, such as employment training, social services and health care, have been tied into a single entity.

“Currently, these operating methods, which focus on cooperation between various operators and aim to have services promoting employment under one roof, have become more common in the local government pilots for employment that started recently,” Anttila says.

He adds that the 6Aika projects have partially acted as pilots for the local government experiments for employment.

At a workshop. A woman is giving a presentation, and a man is standing next to her. The people around the table are listening to the woman. The wall in the background is red, and there are sheets of paper full of text on the wall.
At the workshop of the project ACE. Photo: City of Turku.

The best solutions can be scaled to other cities

The operations of 6Aika employment projects focused on various sectors. Primarily, the projects have promoted competencies and employment in industries that constantly need new kinds of professionals.

“They have included robotics and game development, among others,” Anttila says.

Different cities have different needs in managing employment. These have been taken into consideration in the projects.

“It has been a strength of the operations that we have been able to test and build various solutions and then scale the best of them,” Anttila says.

In Tampere, the discrepancies in the supply and demand of labour force are particularly visible in the social services and health care sector. New professionals are constantly needed there.

Director of Employment of the City of Tampere Regina Saari says that all 6Aika projects implemented in Tampere have yielded permanent solutions for improving employment.

Some of the projects’ outputs have led to significant changes in the operating methods.

“An example of this is the steering model of the Work Hub project,” Saari adds.

Work Hub is developing a new operating model where operators in employment management and educational institutions work together with other operators in the employment ecosystem to seek solutions for companies’ recruitment and professional needs.

“BusinessOulu coordinates Work Hub, and it involves a wide range of operators from the Six Cities,” Saari says.

Final effects will only be seen later

Both Anttila and Saari describe the employment projects of the Six City Strategy as extremely impactful.

For example, the participants of the Job Pathways Finland project included the employment services and universities of applied sciences from five 6Aika cities. A total of 900 jobseekers and students took part in this project, and another 800 in the events held as part of the project.

In total, the 6Aika projects for employment have involved more than 5,000 people and 600 companies by this winter.

“These projects have concretely supported the competencies and employment of a large group of people,” Anttila says.

The 6Aika projects have been particularly helpful for people who have been unemployed for a prolonged period and young people who have recently finished their studies. Anttila points out that some of the effects will only be seen after a longer period of time, once the services born out of project development increase the employment rates.

“The good and productive practices developed in the employment projects will be included in the tasks receiving basic funding,” Saari says.

This article is part of a series of articles in which we present the main results of the Six City Strategy this winter and interview experienced members of the network who have followed up the development of 6Aika cooperation closely.