SYNCLUSIVE – System approach to close the employment gap and create a more inclusive labour market for vulnerable groups

SYNCLUSIVE is a research project aiming at stimulating inclusion of vulnerable groups in the labour market. It is a joint project of four countries (Bulgaria, Finland, Netherlands, Portugal) and funded by the European Commission. In Finland, the project is conducted in cooperation with Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and city of Kokkola.
Neljä henkilöä keskustelee neuvotteluhuoneessa.




The labour market participation of vulnerable groups has remained low despite the labour shortage reported by many industries. The vulnerable groups experiencing inequalities and exclusion include workers with long-term unemployment, low education, older or younger age, and health problems or disabilities. In addition, working careers of those workers inside the labour market, who are low educated, are vulnerable.

Synclusive project will develop, implement, and evaluate innovative solutions to promote inflow, retention, and further professional development of vulnerable groups in the labour market. It will establish active regional community coalitions in four Living Labs to stimulate upward mobility in organizations resulting in better access of vulnerable job seekers. The Living Lab of Finland will be set up in Kokkola and it will include companies, third sector operators, educational organizations, unemployed jobseekers, employees and the City of Kokkola as participants. 

Data and methods

The research has started in 2023 by identifying relevant employment policies, drivers and obstacles of employment and providing jobs, the needs of vulnerable groups, the employment actions carried out, and possible solutions that could be implemented.

In 2024-2026 each Living Lab will implement evidence-based and preferable peer learning based interventions. The effects of the interventions and implementation processes will be analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Results and impact

Each Living lab aims to facilitate 50 low educated employees in moving upwards and 50 job seekers in entering the job.

The effective interventions and the lessons learned will be disseminated at the national and EU level. Opportunities for upscaling will also be reflected upon by social partners, relevant stakeholders, and experts in three other EU countries (Estonia, Italy, Ireland).  

Our experts

Ask about the project

Mervi Ruo­ko­lai­nen, specialized researcher

Research group

Kirsi Arjaranta, specialist (communication) 

Ritva Horppusenior specialist 

Otto Pankkonen, researcher 

Kaisa Reunasenior specialist (data science) 

Kirsi Unkila, senior specialist 

Jukka Vuorihead researcher 

Miia Wikström, researcher 


Finnish Living Lab: City of Kokkola 

Partners: TNO, UvT, and city of Amersfoort (Netherlands), ARC Fund and SDA (Bulgaria), ISCTE, REDO, PACT, IEFP, Termcerto, and city of De Lagoa (Portugal), UCC (Irland), INAIL (Italy), Centar (Estonia)


EU – European Research Executive Agency (REA) 

Synclusive project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526