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Regional pilots on more flexible labour market test to begin 

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 1.9.2021 13.31
Press release
Kaksi hitsaajaa työskentelee isossa teollisuushallissa.

ELY Centres will launch a regional experiment on labour market tests that will introduce common guidelines on work permits in selected areas. This is expected to increase labour mobility between regions and ease permit processes related to foreign workforce. The pilot does not mean that labour market tests will be discontinued. 

Labour market test means that, upon receiving an application for a Finnish residence permit by a foreign worker, the TE Office determines whether a worker already in Finland could fill the vacancy. The purpose of the test is to support the employment opportunities of labour already available on the market, but not to prevent the recruitment of labour from abroad.

The ELY regions of South Ostrobothnia, Ostrobothnia, North Ostrobothnia and Kainuu have been selected as pilot areas for the experiment, which will begin in autumn. In this clearly defined geographical area, business subcontracting chains cross the boundaries of the ELY regions and employers need flexibility in placing their employees. 

A shortage of skilled workforce has started to impede growth in the region and the need for workforce and international experts is expected to grow even more in the next few years. 

Pilot to improve availability of workforce in sectors with labour shortage

A more flexible labour market test will support immigration of skilled labour, because the ELY Centres can together determine the need for labour by occupation in the pilot area, taking into account the economic outlook. If metal industry, for example, were defined as a sector suffering from labour shortage, the labour market test would be equally moderate throughout the area during the pilot. 

In addition to more flexible labour market tests, the pilot involves communication campaigns on attracting skilled workforce and on preventing the exploitation of labour.

The experiment will begin in September–October 2021 and last until the end of February 2023. In that way, an impact analysis of the pilot can be completed by the end of the government term. 

Olli Sorainen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 8022, or email: olli.sorainen(at)

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