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Talent Boost is a cross-administrative programme designed to attract and retain international talent, and to help with immigration. It aims to make Finland better known and more attractive to international talent. Other aims include harnessing the expertise of international specialists already residing in Finland to support the growth, internationalisation and innovation activities of Finnish companies. The programme strives to make the Finnish labour market more open and attractive to international talent, and provides a national collaboration platform for the development of talent-related services.
The purpose of the Talent Boost programme is to formulate employment, industrial, innovation, education and immigration policies that improve the availability of skilled labour and the matching of the labour supply to demand. It also aims to drive the growth and internationalisation of companies and RDI activities, attract investment, facilitate the employment of foreign students, researchers and their spouses in Finland, and strengthen the recruitment and diversity skills of employers.
International talent refers to skilled immigrants or Finnish returnees with international experience, expertise and connections that can generate added value for Finnish industries and cater to the needs of the labour force. Foreign students, researchers, expatriates, returnees or people who move to Finland with their spouse are examples of international talent. Their reason for moving to Finland is irrelevant; it is their competence that counts. A person who has moved to Finland for humanitarian reasons can also be considered an international talent.
Various reports have identified the availability of talent as one of the main challenges facing Finnish companies as they try to expand and become more international. Companies need more skilled workers than Finland has to offer.
There are entire sectors in Finland where the shortage of talent is restricting growth: for example, the ICT industry is currently in need of thousands more skilled workers. The ageing of the population will cause a growing shortage of skilled employees in the social welfare and healthcare sector.
To become leaders in their fields, Finnish companies, universities and innovators must be able to attract the best international talent, or those with the greatest potential. This is a precondition for the growth, internationalisation and innovation activities of Finnish companies but also for their ability to provide jobs for people in Finland.
Finland will also need more international talent to succeed in the worldwide competition for investment. Diverse skills and competences among the workforce and easy access to labour are two of the main reasons why companies invest in specific countries or regions.
International specialists bring with them a knowledge of local conditions and cultures, language skills, international contacts and networks. They often have a good understanding of global trends.
Organisations that welcome international talent have access to a global resource pool, and they are able to compete for the best talent, and those with the greatest potential, in the world.
Companies can benefit from international talent in areas such as product development, gaining entry to new markets, and forming customer relationships in target countries. International talent can help companies and innovators come up with new ideas, find international partners, and strengthen the mindset and approach needed to succeed in global business. They also make Finnish organisations more attractive to Finnish talent who appreciate the opportunity to work in multicultural and international teams.
Lastly, an international labour force can contribute to alleviating Finland’s labour shortage.
Finland needs more skilled labour. Human capital is an increasingly important part of a country’s competitiveness, and the global competition for talent is intense. Talent Boost provides a framework for the cross-administrative collaboration required to attract and retain talent in Finland.
The objective of the Talent Boost programme is to attract international talent to Finland. But we mustn't forget that Finland already has international talent in the country, whose expertise and networks are not being fully utilised in supporting companies’ growth, internationalisation and innovation activities. This is another aspect that the programme seeks to change.
The Talent Boost programme will stimulate debate on the openness of the Finnish labour market. Workplace attitudes, discrimination and a lack of diversity affect the willingness of international specialists to stay and find employment in Finland, and they also affect the general attractiveness of Finland in their eyes.
Goal: International talent will contribute to improving the employment rate in Finland, drive internationalisation in higher education institutions and the growth of companies and RDI activities, and promote foreign investment in Finland.
- Finland becoming an internationally attractive place to work, study, and carry out research.
- Employers willing and able to recruit international talent.
- The expertise of international specialists driving the internationalisation and renewal of Finnish companies and organisations.
Talent Boost provides a platform for national and regional efforts to attract and retain international talent. This helps to ensure that development projects become part of regular activities. A one-stop-shop approach to providing existing services will be adopted in order to make the overall picture clearer and less fragmented to companies and other organisations.
- Accelerating the residence permit process for applications based on work or studies.
- Using the #Finlandworks concept and the workinfinland.fi website to target country brand communications and global marketing communications at international talent.
- Creating a model for international recruitment. This will include identifying supply and demand, and formulating ethical principles.
- Making it easier to settle in Finland by improving public services.
- Supporting international recruitment through the improvement of public services and services to companies.
- Offering incentives such as Business Finland’s Talent Explorer financing to encourage companies to recruit international talent.
- Creating effective mentoring programmes, co-creation models, and spouse programmes.
- Increasing receptiveness and diversity in the workplace, and strengthening the internal internationalisation capabilities of organisations.
- Combating the shadow economy and the abuse of foreign labour.
The programme focuses on attracting talent that is instrumental for the growth and internationalisation of Finnish companies, and for RDI in the leading growth sectors. It also targets sectors suffering from bottlenecks in the labour market.
The potential of the international talent already residing in Finland is underutilised within Finnish companies. The programme aims to build measures that will connect international talent with companies and other organisations, support cultural diversity in the workplace, and encourage companies to recruit the right talent to drive their internationalisation programmes. The programme will also develop coordinated services for growth centres.
Participants include ministries (the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health), cities, Business Finland, the employment administration, and higher education institutions. In addition, participants will engage in continuous dialogue with companies and other stakeholders.
The programme is coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Talent Boost steering group is chaired by Jari Gustafsson, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and Anita Lehikoinen, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Cities play a key role in attracting skilled labour, as the majority of international workers move to metropolitan areas, because the lifestyle choices available and the ease of daily routines make a big difference to a person is considering moving to another country. Urban regions have been leading the way in development efforts designed to attract international talent.
The Talent Boost programme involves creating coordinated service models in growth centres.
Various projects have been launched around Finland to implement Talent Boost programmes in regions and cities:
- Eight ESF/ERDF funded ‘International talents boosting growth’ projects were launched in 2018.
- International talent related projects funded from the Regional innovations and experimentations (AIKO) initiative were launched in the Helsinki region and in Tampere and Turku.
- Growth service pilot projects were launched in the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of South-East Finland and Ostrobothnia.
- In January 2019, the ESF-funded “Kokka kohti Suomea” (Setting the course for Finland) project was launched.
- A project on how to use internationalisation to attract foreign labour was launched in regional cities in the summer of 2019.
Larger cities will further develop the services they provide in English (such as international schools and early childhood education and care).
In the preparation phase, particularly the models used in Sweden and Denmark were examined. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland conducted the Government’s research project ‘Immigrants and Innovation Economy’ which explored best practices in the use of international specialists’ competence to drive company growth, internationalisation and innovation in Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria.
In Denmark, the attraction of talent is closely connected to the attraction of investment. New Zealand, on the other hand, has successfully utilised synergies between attracting tourists and talent.
The global competition for international talent is becoming more and more intense. Many countries have developed programmes for attracting and retaining talent. Until now, Finland has lacked a similar national programme or strategy.
In the competition for international talent, Finland is losing out because the Finnish labour market, professional networks and business ecosystems all remain too insular and parochial.
Finland’s higher education institutions attract thousands of foreigners, both researchers and students. In 2017, foreign students accounted for 7.1% of all students in higher education institutions, which is higher than the average in OECD countries. In 2018, 2,671 new foreign students were enrolled in Finnish universities and 2,796 in universities of applied sciences (Statistics Finland, May 2019). Foreign students completed more than 4,900 academic degrees in Finland in 2018; more than 500 of these were doctoral degrees. To address the labour shortage, a growing number of these academic graduates should be employed in Finland.Talent Boost involves closer cooperation between higher education institutions, companies and service providers in regional cities during the entire period from pre-enrolment marketing to students to post-graduate employment promotion efforts.