Labour market integration of asylum seekers and refugees. Finland

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1 Labour market integration of asylum seekers and refugees Finland Written by Esa Jokinen April 2016

2 EUROPEAN COMMISSION Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Unit A1 Employment and Social Aspects of the European Semester European Commission B-1049 Brussels

3 EUROPEAN COMMISSION Labour market integration of asylum seekers and refugees Finland April, 2016 Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion European Employment Policy Observatory

4 Europe Direct is a service to help you find answers to your questions about the European Union. Freephone number (*): (*) The information given is free, as are most calls (though some operators, phone boxes or hotels may charge you). LEGAL NOTICE This document has been prepared for the European Commission however it reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. More information on the European Union is available on the Internet ( Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2016 ISBN ABC DOI European Union, 2016 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

5 Summary table on support available to (a) asylum seekers; (b) refugees; and (c) third country nationals (TCN) in Finland (underlining of the answer denotes that the provision is problematic) Refugees Asylum Seekers Third Country Nationals Is the PES involved in the labour market integration of (a) asylum seekers (b) refugees (c) third country nationals (TCN)? Do (a) asylum seekers, (b) refugees and (c) TCN have access to: Hiring subsidies Start-up (self-employment) support On-the-job training Other labour market integration support? Is there a systematic mentorship scheme in place for (a) asylum seekers (b) refugees and (c) TCN? Are (a) refugees, (b) asylum seekers and (c) TCN eligible to receive unemployment benefits or unemployment assistance? Are benefits that are generally received by (a) refugees, (b) by asylum seekers (if applicable) and (c) TCN, conditional on job search requirements/activation? Does the support provided to (a) asylum seekers, (b) refugees (c) TCN end as soon as they get a job? YES YES YES Please specify which services asylum seekers or refugees have access to that other TCN do not have access to. More lenient conditionality relating e.g. to income and employment in order to get residence permit. Placement to municipalities - housing quota. Entitled to unemployment benefit during the Free stay in reception centres and relating basic support. Automatic right to a working N/A April,

6 language training (Finnish / Swedish. permit after 3-6 months. 1 What is the role of PES in integrating (a) (some 1 ) asylum seekers 2 and (b) refugees 3? If the PES is not involved, is there another agency dealing with the labour market integration of migrants? Does the support offered differ according to different factors (e.g. sociodemographic characteristics, family circumstances, host country language skills etc.)? Does the support differ according to the skill level of the target group? Are there specific programmes for these target groups? To what extent do these target groups benefit from measures for broader target groups? The PES have only an indirect role in supporting asylum seekers, restricted to authorities participation in the integration councils and anticipation networks coordinated by municipalities and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and Environment (ELYs). Before receiving the status of refugee, the asylum seekers are located in reception centres (RC) around the country. According to the Finnish legislation 4 they are not entitled to any PES services except e-services at the PES offices. Meanwhile they receive a reception compensation from the reception centre (EUR per month in 2015), which is lower than the basic income support (EUR ). The asylum seekers are also entitled to a meal service, emergent health care and public health services with the referral by the RC health nurse. Children are entitled to preliminary and basic education as well as child protection. MIGRI organises refugees placement to municipalities in cooperation with the ELYs. However, the asylum seekers are also entitled to move according to their will on the ground of law. 5 The asylum seekers are entitled to work after three to six months from registering in the country. The Immigration Office (MIGRI) will grant the working permit, and a tax card needs to be obtained from the respective authority. Refugees and third country nationals are in the same position, principally. They both rely on the residence permit, of which there are three categories: a) temporary, b) continuing (up to four years) and c) permanent. Refugees typically receive a continuing residence permit for four years, while the third country nationals have a criteria concerning employment and income. After receiving at least a temporary residence permit, a person is entitled to full social security the same as anyone permanently living in Finland. (S)he is also entitled e.g. to housing benefit. After the early integration process of refugees coordinated by the MIGRI and the target municipality, the PES services take charge in implementing the immigration 1 The reasoning for including (some) is that there is no requirement by the EU that asylum seekers are included in integration policies. 2 Persons who have applied for international humanitarian protection but have not been granted it yet. 3 Covers all beneficiaries of international humanitarian protection both refugees and subsidiary protection. 4 The Public Employment and Business Services Act. 5 an_muutto April,

7 programme for foreign nationals. If the refugee gets only temporary residence permit, there are some exceptions in these services no labour market support (the lowest category unemployment benefit) is paid. Overall, instead of an employment plan, the foreigner will commit to an immigration plan (Act on Integration KotoL) which enables e.g. Finnish / Swedish language training. The same measures are otherwise available for all foreigners permanently living in Finland. The refugee may be the client of the PES immigrant services for two to three years. The whole process of integration is coordinated by the municipalities in close collaboration between health care, social care, education, day care, youth services and PES including language services. The municipalities provide one year of language courses in Finnish/Swedish as part of the immigration plan for adults. 6 There is no defined skills level to be achieved, but there are many different kinds of language tuition alternatives either with own expense, through self-learning 7 or as part of vocational training schemes. For children, there is so called Finnish as a second language (S2) scheme in schools (and practically also in municipal day care) which means that children are taught good Finnish skills. 8 However, it is important to notice that the residence permit granting principles and processes are in the move themselves. For example, during the recent refugee crisis in Europe, the Ministry of Interior declared that some areas in Iraq were safe enough for asylum seekers to be returned there. 9 Some debate has also taken place in the media in relation to the practices on the housing supply for refugees in situations where there is a limited amount of rental accommodation available. 10 At least one can say that the refugees housing is regarded a high priority in Finland. 11 The PES or municipal driven ESF projects have dealt often with migrants, but there is no overall data available on special emphasis on refugee groups. There has been e.g. ALPO project focussing on the early counselling and guidance services in However, refugees have not been a special topic in the employment policies probably due to small share of refugees in Finland before 2015, high level overall unemployment and decreasing public services resources in recent years. 2 How does the support provided to (a) (some) asylum seekers and (b) refugees compare to other categories of migrants (third country nationals)? Of the third country nationals, those who have received permanent residence permit are entitled to the same social security as Finns. Those with a temporary residence permit (employees, entrepreneurs, those with EU blue card, migrants family members) are case-wise assessed whether they can have permanent residence in Finland. 12 The nature of the residence permit forms the basis for the differences in See web page for learning Finnish or Swedish by National Board of Education: kotisuomessa.fi 8 Ibid., 6. 9 MIGRI (2015) Press release vapaikkahakemuksissa_ratkaisevaa_yksilollinen_tilanne_ei_lahtoalue_ Suomen Uutiset (2015) Accessed sen_periaatteet. Accessed Kiuru, B. (2014). Migrants entitlement to social security and health care: policies and practice in Finland. (Maahanmuuttajien oikeus sosiaaliturvaan ja terveydenhuoltoon: politiikat ja käytäntö Suomessa.) Euroopan muuttoliikeverkosto (EMN). Helsinki. (p. 29) April,

8 rights between any migrants. However, whereas the refugees are automatically entitled to the social security, third country nationals have practically more responsibilities concerning the family reunification (income, housing criteria etc.) compared to those with refugee status in order to obtain a residence permit. 3 Do (a) asylum seekers, (b) refugees and (c) other thirdcountry migrants have access to other ALMPs such as: Hiring subsidies, Start-up (self-employment) support On-the-job training Other labour market integration support? Asylum seekers are not entitled to any ALMP s. After three months, those who have valid identity documents are entitled to work, and without identity documents after six months. Earning has an effect on the reception compensation. No working permit is required. While working, they are covered by occupational accident insurance and normal work-related pension scheme. Refugees and third-country migrants are entitled to normal social security and PES services in the framework of the integration plan providing that they have received at least a continuing residence permit. PES measures may include wage subsidies, training and any other form of support. Migrants are obliged to conform to the integration plan in the PES instead of a normal employment plan. Refusing the integration plan leads to sanctions. As said above, for the third-country migrants, the continuing residence permit typically requires working or having secured income by spouse or relatives. This criteria may also lead to unreasonable situations when different authorities assess a person as not entitled to social security despite having paid unemployment and sickness insurance fees What are the concrete obstacles/challenges faced by (a) asylum seekers and (b) refugees in successfully integrating into the labour market? Asylum seekers are not a target group for active labour market policies. Refugees face many obstacles in integrating into the labour market. Integration services are considered a rather problematic field as a whole. There is a very limited labour market for uneducated people or those with only basic language skills in Finland. The current PES system emphasises autonomy and self-activation of jobseekers, and the service chains are challenging to build. ALMP measures and language training possibilities have been considered too limited. Integration training provided by PES is often the only service available for many migrants. In the short term the effect of PES reform (2013) has been negative. 14 In addition: - both general and special challenges relate to different groups of refugees; - high overall unemployment, restructuring of labour market and lack of housing possibilities; do/networks/european_migration_network/reports/docs/emn-studies/illegallyresident/08b.finland_national_report_social_security_fi_version.pdf. 13 Kiuru, B. (2014). Maahanmuuttajien oikeus sosiaaliturvaan ja terveydenhuoltoon: politiikat ja käytäntö Suomessa. (Immigrants right to social security and health care: policies and practice in Finland.) Helsinki. 14 Eronen et al. (2014). Employment of Immigrants and the role of active labour market policy measures. (Maahanmuuttajien työllistyminen. Taustatekijät, työnhaku ja työvoimapalvelut.) Ministry of Employment and Economy Publications. Employment and Entrepreneurship 6/ April,

9 - refugees illiteracy, lack of education, inadequate knowledge of the Western society norms; and service systems that would help them to adopt information; - lack of personnel resources in the PES and emphasis on the self / e- services; - inadequate training and hiring subsidy allocation Is there a systematic mentorship scheme in place for (a) asylum seekers and (b) refugees integrating into the labour market (and/or society more generally)? Asylum seekers are taken care of by MIGRI, and no systematic mentorship scheme exists (excluding voluntary services). The integration plan at the PES takes care of the labour market integration and related guidance. There is a formal contact person at the PES although this does not cover all information needs. There are also different stakeholders and services involved like municipality services and some e-services and information web sites like kotouttaminen.fi under the auspices of Integration Expertise, Ministry of Employment and Economy. This Expertise disseminates good practices in integration. 16 The Refugee advice centre helps refugees in legal questions. The mentorship schemes outside the normal integration system are not politically discussed but there have been significant pro-refugee statements by the main politicians like the Prime Minister Sipilä in Much voluntary help has been available for the refugees. In the context of the integration plan the personal needs, translation and other forms of aid are being taken into account. However, the resources are rather scarce in this respect and immigrants are required first of all to undergo quick language learning in order to help them to integrate. This is not an easy task for refugees in Finland. 6 Are (a) refugees and (b) (if applicable) asylum seekers eligible to receive unemployment benefits or unemployment assistance? 18 Refugees are entitled to receive unemployment benefits providing that they have at least a continuing residence permit (four years). With temporary (short term) permit one is not entitled to the lowest labour market support but indeed to unemployment allowance in case that the employment criteria is fulfilled. Asylum seekers are not entitled to any unemployment benefits. These require a residence permit. As already said, the Finnish social security system is mostly based on residence (and case-wise consideration, no clear-cut definition), and this makes the system complicated. 7 In what ways are benefits that are generally received by (a) refugees and (b) by asylum seekers (if applicable), conditional on job search requirements/activation? The same conditionality applies to refugees as other jobseekers (employment condition etc.) The waiting period for the unemployment benefit may be shorter if the 15 This assessment by a representative of ELY centre. 16 kotouttaminen.fi/kotouttaminen/info/osaamiskeskus html 18 As regards unemployment benefits Dir 2011/98 Art 12 (1) e obliges MSs to provide equal treatment to all TCNs except asylum seekers and as regards refugees there is also the legal obligation to provide equal treatment under Qualifications Directive 2011/95 April,

10 person has worked in the EU or ETA area during the past two years. The refugees are entitled to housing benefit like local residents. The asylum seekers are not entitled to benefits. The asylum seekers are not entitled to benefits. Staying in the reception centre is free and unconditional. 8 Does the support provided to the (a) asylum seekers, (b) refugees and (c) other migrants end as soon as they get a job or does it continue for a while during the first phase of their employment? If yes, what support continues? For asylum seekers, earning has an effect on the reception compensation. For refugees, the same conditionality applies as local residents: the support ends when the person is employed. The integration plan requires regular visiting at the PES, otherwise (s)he loses right to the support for 30 days. The refugees are entitled to unemployment benefit during the language training (Finnish / Swedish). Other migrants receive the same as refugees. 9 To what extent are social partners systematically involved in (a) labour market integration service provision and/or (b) labour market integration service/policy definition and design? No data on this, social partners are not systematically consulted on integration policy design. The role of the social partners has related to public announcements that (i) condemn racism and (ii) encourage hiring asylum seekers and refugees. 10 To what extent is the labour market integration of refugees well-coordinated within the country? Do employment agencies and asylum authorities coordinate? Formally there is a good coordination and division of labour between the authorities. However, MIGRI only answers for the residence permits and is not greatly involved in other activities. It may be assessed that the integration is heavily under the responsibility of PES integration programmes. The main idea of the coordination is that there would be local networks involving also municipality, social security authorities, education, third sector and e.g. traineeship and job opportunities. It is a complex endeavour and it often lacks efficient coordination due to lack of resources, excessive work load and lack of familiarity of such practices. April,

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