In response to the seasonal work force crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this project helped to provide counselling and guidance services related to employment issues via multiple communication channels.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on rural areas. Amongst these has been the closing of borders, which restricted the mobility of seasonal farm workers. Of the usual 16 000 foreign seasonal workers needed in Finland annually, only a small percentage were able to enter, and Finnish young people were unaware of the work opportunities available in rural areas. In these circumstances, many farms were about to go bankrupt.
This seasonal labour project hired four employment counsellors, who looked for potential farm workers and marketed the farms to job-seekers. Farms received help from a wide network of groups and individuals, in addition to communication and marketing support. The Töitä Suomesta Oy platform was established at the beginning of the KoroKausi project and is owned by MTK, ProAgria Keskusten Liitto and the ‘Villages of Finland’ group. Thanks to the KoroKausi project, national organisations brought their experience together and can support companies all over Finland, now and in the future.
In comparison to the situation at the start of the scheme, the handling of the pandemic related issues went well. The project helped to find employees for almost all farms that sought help from the service.
Two major communications campaigns, via advertisements placed on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, reached 960 000 and 300 000 Finns respectively. Natural (wild) berry picking was also of interest to the media, and the website www.Töitäsuomesta.fi, which has about 7 000 registered users, had around 2 100 farm jobs available on one occasion.
The farms and the workers experiences were gathered through a survey carried out in August 2020. It emerged that around half of the 126 employer-respondents would recruit a domestic workforce in future years, and two-thirds of the 50 worker-respondents were interested in doing seasonal work again.
The platform the project created responds to the constant need for both domestic and foreign seasonal worker recruitment and is especially useful during such a critical situation.