Report: Human trafficking victims have a long road from exploitation to a fair working life


The Finnish employment service system is not flexible enough to meet the different needs of victims of human trafficking and exploitation. This is revealed in a report by the National Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking and the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI). The report looks at Finnish employment services for victims of human trafficking and exploitation with a foreign background.

The report states that different structural challenges make it difficult to support the employment of victims of human trafficking. Victims of labour exploitation do not usually have the chance to use integration services because most of them spend their integration time in hard conditions such as forced labour. In addition, employment offices do not have enough time to think about the situation of human trafficking victims.

“Many employment offices are not familiar with human trafficking. To meet the service needs of victims and stop them from revictimisation, employment offices around the country need clear guidelines for identifying and supporting victims,” says Project Manager Veikko Mäkelä from the National Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking.

Victims need more flexible paths to working life

Every year, Finnish officials identify hundreds of victims of human trafficking with a foreign background who are staying in Finland legally, as well as people who have been exploited in working life, experienced sexual abuse or been in a forced marriage, for example. The victims have many different backgrounds. A history of exploitation can also affect their functional and working abilities in many ways. This is why victims need individual support.

“Victims who have suffered from labour exploitation may have a wrong picture of working life and employees’ rights in Finland because their former employer has given them false information. This directly affects their skills in working life and finding work in a fair labour market,” says Researcher Anna-Greta Pekkarinen from HEUNI.

Based on the results of the report, victims of human trafficking and exploitation need more flexible employment and integration services. It should be easier for people who have suffered from exploitation to find integration and rehabilitation services. Combining these services should also be made easier.

Employment services and municipalities need additional training

Employment offices must be able to offer individual services to victims of human trafficking and exploitation. That is why the report recommends that employment offices are trained to understand the effects of human trafficking, trauma and exploitation on the victims’ functional and working abilities. The offices should also be trained to use existing services flexibly to improve the situation and employment opportunities of victims of human trafficking. In addition, better network cooperation and exchange of information between different operators is needed.

The report is part of the “Building employability skills and working life competence for victims of human trafficking” -project of the Assistance System for Victims of Human Trafficking. The IKUT project aims to develop the working life skills and abilities of victims of human trafficking. The project is funded by the European Social Fund.

Publication: Hyväksikäytöstä reiluun työelämään. Selvitys ulkomaalaistaustaisten ihmiskaupan uhrien työllisyyspalveluiden järjestämisestä Suomessa. Anniina Jokinen, Anna-Greta Pekkarinen, Veikko Mäkelä, Saija Korkeakangas, Natalia Ollus and Roosa Näsi. HEUNI Report Series No 96. Helsinki: HEUNI. 2021. Retrieved from

This press release was published in Finnish on 12 October 2021.



Veikko Mäkelä, Project Manager for the IKUT project;; tel. +358 29 546 3171

Anna-Greta Pekkarinen, Researcher, European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control;; tel. +358 50 477 7120


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