Guidance and counselling services fail to reach all those in need of assistance
Guidance and counselling services for immigrants in Finland are fragmented in terms of accessibility, service provision and resourcing. Access to services is not equally provided to customers in all parts of the country. These were the conclusions of the final report of the study on low-threshold guidance and counselling services for immigrants commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The report also makes recommendations for the development of the service network.
According to the report, services are not consistent in terms of content, even though there are similarities between practical activities. In addition to municipalities providing services, several organisations offer guidance and counselling services that play an important role for many immigrants. The report concludes that municipalities have failed to sufficiently review and develop information, guidance and counselling services as a whole, and for this reason the different services are insufficiently interconnected. This makes it more difficult to systematically use the existing low-threshold guidance and counselling services for helping customers gain access to employment or education.
Guidance and counselling should be provided to all immigrants
According to the report, all guidance and counselling services for immigrants organised by local authorities have common characteristics. What is essential about the services is that anyone who has moved to Finland has easy access to accurate and up-to-date information as well as advice and guidance on any issue related to their everyday life and personal situation. Low-threshold guidance and counselling services must be provided without a referral or registration as a customer to all those who have moved to Finland, regardless of the duration of their stay in the country, or the reason for their immigration.
Low-threshold service points should be developed as part of the guidance and counselling services provided to all municipal residents. Other special needs such as language skills requirements must also be taken into account. Steps should be taken to ensure pathways to any other services required by customers.
Remote counselling service available nationwide to complement other services
The report proposes that municipal low-threshold guidance and counselling services should be organised in municipalities with the largest number of immigrants. Intermunicipal cooperation would also extend the services to smaller municipalities. Remote counselling service available nationwide would complement the range of services.
Included in the publications of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the final report “Low-threshold guidance and counselling services for immigrants” describes the various types of services currently available to immigrants in the low-threshold guidance and counselling service points, and the different actors involved in these services. The report identifies the critical success factors and development needs. In conclusion, the report proposes minimum criteria for immigrant guidance and counselling service points, and other recommendations for further development of the service network.
The report was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and it was prepared by Owal Group Oy.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will launch a call for funding applications for guidance and counselling services in May. More information will be posted on tem.fi and kotouttaminen.fi websites.
Publications of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 2020:27 Low-threshold guidance and counselling services for immigrants. Final report of the study.
Susanna Piepponen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 2950 47990
Risto Karinen, Director, Owal Group Oy, tel. +358 50 535 1820