Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) has established a important goal to have the best working life in Europe in 2020. Simultaneously there is a need to extend the working careers of Finnish citizens to bridge the sustainability deficit. A strong lobbying favors to raise the retirement age and sadly only little political support to seek alternative ways to solve the issue.
Raising of retirement age is like giving a medicine for headache, that is caused by a bullet in the head. I claim that there are two major problems among working age Finnish people that need to be solved anyway - and that those issues will solve a large part of the working career extension target.
The more urgent of these two problems is to improve the working life as MEE intends.
Already regulations and support cuts rush students to graduate and go to work earlier. Also it seems that the youngsters face symptoms of burn out already in elementary school.
Pressure works only into some extent and after that people start cracking. Finnish Student Health Service considers that 25% of university students have problems with their mental health. It is terrible to see how many people around me has experienced burn out or is on the way or recovering. Healthy, motivated and highly skilled workers experience periods of lowered capability work, sick leaves and even hospitalization. This is the reality - and this must have affect on the effective working careers.
Four principles should be the most important knowhow and goal for Everyone in Finnish labour market - both employees and employers:
1) Identifying continuous stress,
2) understanding its effect on health,
3) knowing how to relieve it and
4) adjusting the work to get rid of harmful stress.
The the other issue that is not so simple to change. Finnish education system.
Finnish elementary education system has been praised internationally and for good reason. It has kept kids as kids and taught them equally good basics to stay healthy and grow to be effective Finnish labour. It has even taught them the best way to relieve stress - outdoors and exercise.
After the elementary school something goes wrong. I have completed two degrees and I claim that half of the courses was unnecessary. Although I am generalist of my nature and want to know everything - the other half in both degrees was still totally useless (sorry teachers).
Finnish higher education targets to make age groups of Leonardo Da Vinci's year after year.
I wonder what Raimo Sailas would say, if we could extend the working lifes with two years in most of the professions?! And I bet 20 yo younsters make more work than most 67 yo elderlies..
There is a workaround for this, but it needs a cultural change. I figure that most of the professions do not require min 3 year education for the employee to be proficient in one's work.
I cannot remember that I would have shown my papers to anybody since I graduated. It seems that papers are not actually needed if you know what you are doing. In a way degrees and papers are just another form of industry that give authorizations. Maybe the time for universities as a education for masses starts decaying? This excellent article (in finnish) questions the need for universities if their original purpose of developing thinkers has shrunk to sharing diplomas to the masses.