15. joulukuuta 2006

When a friend of mine got a permanent job straight after graduation I was surprised. Not that she wasn`t bright – she really is. But she is also a graduate of Arts and the job matched her education.
    Article on page 13 of this Ylioppilaslehti focuses on unemployment amongst academic youth in Europe. Knowing how Finnish university students, especially in the faculties of Arts and Sciences, talk about having to choose between temporary employment and no employment at all, we decided to ask how the academic youth in other European countries see their future in the labour market. In the article seven young academic Europeans tell how they got started in working life.

Doing research on the subject and going through statistics made it clear that when compared to some other European countries, the situation of the newly graduated academics in Finland is not that bad.
    It`s true that the academic unemployment is a growing problem. The facts can be read for example in the newly released report “Five Years in the Working Life” by Akava (the Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals).
    The study proves a well-known fact: the volume of students educated doesn`t match the demands of the labour market. There are too many Masters and Doctors of Arts and too few graduates from technical sciences.
    Still, the unemployment rate of highly educated young Finns is clearly below the average of EU. Especially in the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe academic degree is much less of a guarantee for fi nding work than in Finland. The situation is in part due to diff erent economic structures and transition periods that many Eastern European countries are presently going through.

But yes, you can also find countries that do way better than Finland on this field. Much can still be done here too.
    For example comparing the academic unemployment rates between men and women in Finland and especially the rates of those working only temporarily doesn`t give very admirable results. Women have it way worse than men. Their unemployment rate is higher as a whole, and 70 percent of newly gratuated academics working temporarily are women. In most countries of Western and Northern Europe the difference in especially the duration of one`s contract is not this obvious.
    Such a big difference between sexes is hard to accept – and the fact that the total number of women graduating from the universities in Finland has lately been about 20 percent higher than that of men doesn`t make it any easier.
    So what can I say: when my friend, Master of Arts, got a permanent job at the age of 27, my amazement was also a bit due to the fact that she is a woman.

Can we do something about this, then? Equality in the labour market is of course a question of attitudes and long traditions.  That doesn`t change overnight.
    One concrete step would be if the employees` representatives both in private and public sector were given an easy access to information with which they could revise the conditions of each and every labour contract. If we want to interfere with unjust working terms, the grounds on which the temporary contracts are made should be made transparent.
    Maybe then we would not have to be surprised when a bright and highly educated young woman fi nds work.

Elina Kervinen

P.S. This is is our international edition – something to read for the foreign students too. Enjoy!