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In practice

Youth Support Hub: Guidance centres for work, education and everyday life

Summary

Finland —

  • Ohjaamo centers in Finland function as integrated multi-agency hubs, providing a single point of access for a wide range of services.

  • These centres provide young people with support for challenges related to work, education, and everyday life without making an appointment in advance.

  • The centers operate with flexible partnerships and funding models, ranging from extensive collaborations with chambers of commerce and NGOs to a focus on specific services. Funding comes from municipalities, the Finnish government, the European Social Fund and additional sources based on location, ensuring diverse and sustainable support.

Published on the 19/01/2024

KeywordYouth

CountryFinland

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What are the objectives?

Young people face many challenges during their transition from school to work: navigating the labour market, education and training, securing housing or getting established in a new community. To help young people meet all these needs, Finland created universal one-stop guidance centres, called “Ohjaamo” (Navigator in English), providing face-to-face and free-of-charge wrap-around services to individuals under the age of 30. First piloted in 2014, Finland housed 70 local Ohjaamo centres in 2022.

How does it work in practice?

Ohjaamo centres work as “multi-agency services” that bring together employment, social and other services in one physical location to overcome administrative silos. Services provided in different Ohjaamos can vary significantly based on local initiative. Some centres, for example, develop far-reaching partnerships with organisations such as chambers of commerce, NGOs and occupational health specialists, while others focus on a more limited set of services. The joint provision of services enables staff to address the various challenges young people face within a single public service – including accessing income support, housing, education and training, as well as mental or physical health care, social events, sport and creative activities.

Ohjaamos are a central point where young people receive guidance on and apply for different services. Young people do not need an appointment to receive Ohjaamo services. The “low threshold” method is meant to attract young people who would otherwise not take up employment and social services due to difficulties registering or identifying services. Ohjaamos emphasize face-to-face services, feedback from young people and services adapted to young peoples’ own pace and preferences. Counsellors from different organisations in Ohjaamos do not always provide social services directly, such as social housing, but accompany young people through the application process. Service methods vary based on location to adapt to the availability of local services and the needs of young people in different places.

Different administrations involved in Ohjaamo centres provide the staff within the centres. Additional funding for Ohjaamos can vary based on location, and municipalities help fund the centres and provide physical space for activity. The Finnish government has also introduced permanent supplementary funding for Ohjaamos and issued guidelines on the functioning of the centres.

What has been the impact?

So far, promising but limited data on Ohjaamo outcomes is available for early phases of roll-out. In 2017, young people visited Ohjaamo centres nearly 120 000 times, suggesting 2 400 visits per centre. 22% of all young people for whom data was collected transitioned into open labour market jobs, 32% applied for training while 7% secured a place to live. Feedback from users in 2018 based on 409 respondents at 26 centres also indicates a positive experience among young people. Respondent gave centres an average score of 9.25 for the quality of Ohjaamo guidance on a scale of four to ten.

What can other communities learn from this example?

Finland's experience with Ohjaamo centers provides valuable insights for improving youth services and bringing them all under the same roof.

  • The initiative showcases how integrating employment, social, and support services in a centralized location offers potential benefits in both efficiency and accessibility.

  • The importance of adaptability and tailoring services to local needs by collaborating and forming partnerships with different actors has been highlighted throughout the planning and implementation of the program.

  • The Ohjaamo centers have adopted "low threshold" approach and face-to-face interactions with the aim to simplify access for youth and address potential barriers in service utilization.

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