Work is meaningful for young people but wide differences exist between genders

Finnish Youth Research Network and the State Youth Council
Press release, 20 April 2020

Young people are committed to work and they find it meaningful. Young people who are entrepreneurs find their work particularly meaningful, and entrepreneurship is viewed more favourably than before among young people. However, there are clear differences between the genders in the respondents’ attitudes towards their own labour market position and their future in working life. Young women express more concern in many ways about work and working life than young men and are also more worried than young men about coping. The 2019 Youth Barometer, which focuses on work and entrepreneurship, shows this kind of information.

Work is not just a source of income for young people

Overall, the Youth Barometer interviews portray a reasonably positive picture of young people views on work. Work is important for young people and it is increasingly more meaningful, with nine out of ten young people wanting work to reflect their own values. Especially entrepreneurs and young people with a higher education degree find their work inspiring and meaningful.

"As such, work must have something to offer to young people. Given the high expectations placed on work, it is hardly surprising that almost half of all students find the choice of occupation stressful and one in three find it downright frightening,” says Elisa Gebhard, Chair of the State Youth Council, one of the two publishers of the Youth Barometer.

Very few young people think that any work is good enough as long as it pays well enough. Work is not just a source of income for young people, and a clear majority disagrees with the claim that to be happy, you do not have to work. With three out of four saying that they would prefer to take a job rather than live on subsidies, even if accepting work does not raise their level of earnings, young people clearly feel commitment towards work. On average, young people are satisfied with their current job. The school grade given to job satisfaction in the 2019 barometer is 8.2, which is higher than before. On the other hand, over one third of the respondents are worried about coping at work.

Young people’s feeling of commitment to work is also reflected in the fact that more than half of them are prepared to postpone setting up a family for work-related reasons, but even more are ready to give up a job opportunity for family reasons. A minority consider it impossible to reconcile work and family life.

Young women worried about working life

One of the most important observations in this year’s Youth Barometer is the gender differentiation of attitudes and values related to working life. Women feel that their work is emotionally burdensome, and they also worry about work issues during their leisure time more than men do. Already a decade ago, women expressed more concern than men about coping, and the gender gap has become even wider over time.

Young men are also more confident about their careers than women. Nearly nine out of ten young people consider it probable that they will have a permanent job in their own careers, but men are more confident about it than women. A larger proportion of women are also concerned about whether they will have any work at all in the future.

“Young women find their position in the labour market more prone to risks in many ways than young men”, concludes Lotta Haikkola, Research Manager at the Finnish Youth Research Network and one of the editors of the Youth Barometer.

Entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurship on the rise

There are more entrepreneurs among the respondents in the survey than in previous Youth Barometers, and there were also more other respondents than in earlier surveys who expressed an interest in setting up a business at some stage of their careers. More than three out of four believe that entrepreneurship will become more widespread in the future. Virtually all respondents who are young entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs out of choice, not forced by circumstances. Young entrepreneurs feel that they are in a job that corresponds to their education more so than wage earners.

More young people feel that they have received good basic knowledge of entrepreneurship at school, and young people generally believe that society has become more pro-entrepreneurial. Three out of four deem it important for Finland's future to retain ownership of companies in Finnish hands. Just as many believe that entrepreneurship can make a difference in society. Entrepreneurship is seen as a way of being free to realise your own dreams. Half of the young people agreas an entrepreneur than as a wage earner.

“More than two in three see that an entrepreneurial approach is needed in all work,” Haikkola says.

Information on the publication

Youth Barometer 2019 cover.

Lotta Haikkola and Sami Myllyniemi (eds.) Hyvää työtä! Nuorisobarometri 2019 (in English: Good Work! Youthbarometer 2019)
ISBN 978-952-372-004-6 (print), ISBN 978-952-372-005-3 (PDF); Youth Research Network/Youth Research Society, Publications 225/On-line publications 152, Field; Publications of the State Youth Council No. 65; 256 pp., print, EUR 28; Helsinki: Ministry of Education and Culture and State Youth Council and Youth Research Network


Research Manager (temp.) Lotta Haikkola
Finnish Youth Research Network
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
tel. +358 44 4165 300

Researher Sami Myllyniemi
Finnish Youth Research Network
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tel. +358 40 715 1721

The book is available for sale at the online store of the Youth Research Network (only in Finnish). The Youth Barometer is available free of charge as an online publication on the webpages of the State Youth Council. The publication is only available in Finnish.

Background to the Youth Barometer

The Youth Barometer, published on an annual basis since 1994, is a survey designed for interviewing young people between the ages of 15 and 29 living in Finland. This means we have been following young people’s values and experiences over a period of more than 25 years. Since 2004, the Youth Barometer has been published as a collaborative effort with the State Youth Council and the Finnish Youth Research Network.

Some of the questions in the Youth Barometer are the same year after year, which makes it possible to monitor changes and detect genuine trends that have taken place over time. In addition to the core topics of work and education, long-term follow-up themes have included social influencing, housing, the future and social life, and life satisfaction and its various components. Besides the reiterative core topics, the annually changing theme addresses topical issues related to young people and youth that warrant comprehensive up-to-date information to support decision-making in society.

The 2019 Youth Barometer is based on 1,907 telephone interviews.


Sami Myllyniemi and Lotta Haikkola

Statistical section

Young people in a changing labour market
Labour market transformation and young people's attitudes to working life
Work in the future
Youth Barometer topics
Data collection and background variables
Data collection process
Background variables
Career choices and guidance
Career choices as well as parties and factors influencing career choices
Studying for the preferred occupation, working in it, and a job that corresponds to acquired education and training
Plans for moving into working life
Quality of employment relationships
Fixed-term and part-time employment and temporary agency work in the barometer data
Students' employment and employment relationships
Views on the respondents’ jobs and coping at work
Inspiring work and coping at work
For many higher education graduates, work is both inspiring and emotionally stressful. Results from factor analysis
Negotiating between work and leisure time
Discrimination and bullying in working life
Views on work and demands of working life
What is work?
Requirements of working life, job careers and consuming working life
Gender equality and opportunities for reconciling work and family
Commitment to work and work orientation
Young people are committed to work but want work that reflects their own values
Respondents’ views on their future in working life.
Permanent work, adequacy of work and mobility in the labour market
Concern about coping at work
Willingness to become an entrepreneur
Unemployment and social security
A more accepting attitude towards unemployment
Views on unemployment and attitudes towards the unemployed
Coping, competition and basic security
Support for conditionality of unemployment security decreasing again
How much do you need to earn for living a reasonable life?
Employers and sole entrepreneurs
Willingness to grow
Becoming an entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship and society
Young people's values and satisfaction with their own lives
Health, family and social relations are important in young people’s lives

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