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The Big Three of international recruitment: permits, attraction and attitudes

Sonja Hämäläinen Published Date 19.12.2019 14.14 Blog

Sinja Hämäläinen

Finland is currently facing a labour market dilemma: while the number of vacancies is at a record high, 42 per cent of employers still experience recruitment problems. A shortage of skilled labour is a serious obstacle to growth in many companies. They need key players, and there simply aren’t enough in Finland. As the working-age population shrinks, the economic dependency ratio is declining dramatically.  The presence of international talent in Finland is directly correlated with our ability to attract investment. Moreover, diversity has been shown to make work communities and companies more innovative and productive.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will assume responsibility for matters related to labour migration at the turn of the year. Therefore, I feel this is a good time to bring up a few facts regarding the need for labour migration and to highlight three challenges we intend to address: 1. How to simplify and accelerate the permit process 2. How to make Finland more attractive to international talent and 3. How to encourage employers to recruit international talent.

Let’s begin with the permit procedure. Without a doubt, the permit process must be quicker and easier. Although we have already achieved improvements – the Finnish Immigration Service has been able to reduce the backlog and TE Offices are processing applications faster – we still need more robust changes, including a legislative reform and an overhaul of our electronic services. This takes time and money, but at least we have begun to take action and set the wheels in motion.

Global competition for international talent is fierce, which is why we must make Finland an attractive place to work and study. It is also important to offer work and services for the families of sought-after specialists. 

Global competition for international talent is fierce, which is why we must make Finland an attractive place to work and study. It is also important to offer work and services for the families of sought-after specialists. Unlike many of our competitors, Finland has not previously been able to attract international talent. Until recently, our labour market has been too insular and parochial. We have also been too modest and unable to see what our country has to offer.

To turn things around, we have launched Talent Boost, a programme designed to attract a new kind of talent. It includes a comprehensive migration programme for specialists, employees, students and researchers, carried out jointly by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Employers may feel hesitant about recruiting international talent for the first time because of language barriers or cultural differences. We want to help and encourage employers in this process by providing support for recruitment. This includes EURES advisers working in TE Offices, who are familiar with the European labour market and can act as a liaison, and who can help to find a suitable country for recruitment, start the recruitment process and offer advice to foreign employees on matters related to migration and Finnish working life.

Permits, attraction and attitudes. These are the key things we need to focus on. Once we can get them to serve our purpose – making the recruitment of international experts and their migration to Finland easy and seamless – we will be on the right path.

Sonja Hämäläinen, Migration Director

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