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What is YKA?

Social Science Professionals (Yhteiskunta-alan korkeakoulutetut ry) is a labour market organisation for employees, graduates and students in public or private sector or NGOs. The association is an affiliate of the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland (Akava).

A typical training background for members is a university degree in political or social science, administration, humanities or pedagogics. Our membership already exceeds 13 000, and the number of members is rising steadily.

YKA in a nutshell

The Social Science Professionals (YKA) is a professional interest organisation for people working in public services or private sector and who have a university degree or are studying for one. The Union is a community of 13 000 members.

The association safeguards its members’ professional, financial, educational and social interests on the labour market. The association also aims to promote appreciation for the professions represented by its members and the professional identity of its members.

Some 40 per cent of the association’s members are employed by the state and universities, 20 per cent are employed by municipalities, and 40 per cent are employed by companies and other organisations in the private sector.

The Union was founded in 1947. On 1 March 2012 the name was changed from Suomen Valtiotieteilijöiden Liitto SVAL ry to Yhteiskunta-alan korkeakoulutetut ry (YKA for short). The Union is part of central organisation Akava.

YKA’S STRATEGY 2016–2023

Vision and mission

Social Science Professionals is a pioneer of trade unions of the new era. Every social science professional is able to build a meaningful career in their own way and balance work and personal life in a suitable way.

We are our members’ partner in their careers, and we support their development, career opportunities and rights so that they can focus on their work.

YKA’s values


We know our responsibility as experts on society and promote equity and equality in working life and all of society. We acknowledge our members’ different life situations and treasure the trust in the fairness of our work.


YKA actively participates in social dialogue and influences society. We bring forward new initiatives bravely, we propose different options and we strive for real impact. We take part in developing working life and the social science field with determination. We are at the front end of the trade union movement reform and we are open to new ideas.


Our work is open and transparent. The Unions’ lobbying and aims are based on facts and research. Our decision making is based on extensive member democracy, and we develop our work based on the feedback we receive from members. We are easy to reach, and everyone is welcome to join our activities.

Promises to our members

  • Be our members’ partner in all situations. We offer our services at good times and bad.
  • Always offer expert advice quickly. We take our members’ questions seriously, look into them properly, and give well-founded answers.

  • Strive to give all our members a chance to have a good life: combining work and personal life, varied career opportunities and reaching their personal goals.
  • Actively develop and renew Finnish working life. We commit to presenting concrete solutions and new initiatives – always striving for a solution. We are active influencers both in the Akava community and in the trade union movement as a whole.
  • Actively follow the changes taking place in working life and be at the forefront of developing new practices. We promote the interests of all our members – including temporary workers, freelancers, the self-employed and the unemployed.
  • Pay particular attention in our lobbying activities to the groups who are most in need of representation – not only the average earners and typical members, but for example the ones with serious gaps in their safety nets and conditions of employment.
  • Promote equity and equality in working life. We are actively aiming to remove practices from working life that discriminate against various sections of the population.
  • Understand the importance that the wider interests of society have to our members.
  • Encourage our members to participate in the Union’s activities and the local lobbying activities at their place of work.

  • Acknowledge feedback from members and develop our activities in line with the feedback. We assess our activities and services regularly and systematically.
  • Know our members and be prepared to develop our activities in line with our members’ requirements.
  • Look after our staff members’ skills in order to be able to offer our members a good service.
  • Strengthen our members’ community spirit and pride for their field. We are aware of our role as an alliance of social science experts, and we support the building of a social scientist identity both within and outside universities.
  • Make social scientists’ skills more visible on all available channels and forums. The network made up of our members is the Union’s most valuable asset.

Operating environment

Society and working life are changing at an ever-increasing speed. Digitalisation is reducing the amount of physical labour and bringing about new tasks that require creativity. The contents and aims of the work are more important to the employees than they used to be, while continuous careers become rarer and job descriptions become more varied.

The working life of the future requires more flexibility and adaptability from both employees and employers. Internationalisation and the changes in working life are challenging labour market organisations to consider their own roles, but also how up-to-date society’s safety nets are.

The attitude towards labour market organisations is more critical than before, and reform is expected from the trade union movement. The changes in working life affect where, how and why people organise themselves professionally. This is reflected in the unions’ membership structure, and therefore also its ability to influence.

Social scientists will still be needed in the future to understand, develop and explain society’s phenomena. Nevertheless, right now the cuts to the public finances and the public sector pose a particular threat to the kinds of jobs and skills whose importance cannot be measured directly in financial terms.

More varied careers and different life situations require the Union to offer agile representation of interests and varied services. The spectrum of the membership’s views and skills is YKA’s strength, but it also creates challenges within the Union’s decision making.

The Union Council approved the strategy in its spring meeting 23 April 2016.