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Frequently asked questions about Talent Boost
In its 2017 mid-term policy review, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Government decided to launch Talent Boost – International talents boosting growth, a joint cross-sectoral programme for the Government. Its aim is to raise awareness of Finland and make it more attractive to international talents. Other aims include harnessing the expertise of international talents who already are in Finland to support the growth, internationalisation and innovation activities of Finnish companies. The programme also strives to make the Finnish labour market more open and attractive to international talents.
International talents are highly skilled immigrants or Finnish returnees with international experience and expertise as well as networks that can generate added value for Finnish industries. International talents in Finland may, for example, be foreign students, researchers, expatriates, returnees or people who move to Finland with their spouse. The reason for moving to Finland is irrelevant. A person who has moved to Finland for humanitarian reasons can also be considered an international talent.
Measures included in the Talent Boost programme are designed to attract senior specialists in third countries.
Various reports have identified the availability of talents as one of the main challenges facing Finnish companies as they try to expand and become more international. Companies need greater numbers of talented workers than Finland has to offer.
There are already entire industries in Finland where the shortage of talents has put growth at risk: for example, the software industry needs thousands of skilled employees. The demand for talents is also high at the southwestern coast, where the positive structural change has created numerous new jobs.
To become leaders in their fields, Finnish companies, universities and innovation actors must be able to attract from abroad the best talents or those with the highest 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 talents to succeed in the global competition for investments. Broad-based expertise and a large pool of workforce are two of the main reasons why companies invest in specific countries or regions.
International talents are familiar with the local conditions and culture of target countries and have language skills, international contacts and networks. They often understand global trends.
Companies can benefit from the expertise of international talents, for example, in product development, accessing new markets and forming customer relationships in target countries. International talents can help companies and innovation actors create new ideas, find international partners and strengthen the mindset and approach needed in global business.
Talents are an increasingly important part of a country’s competitiveness, and the global competition for attracting talents is intense. Until now, Finland has lacked a national programme or strategy for attracting and retaining international talents.
The aim of the Talent Boost programme is to attract international talents to Finland. On the other hand, Finland already has international talents whose expertise and networks are not fully utilised to support companies’ growth, internationalisation and innovation activities. This is another aspect that the programme seeks to change.
The Talent Boost programme will also stimulate debate on the openness of the Finnish labour market. The attitudes, non-discrimination and diversity of working life have an impact on the ability of international talents to find employment, their willingness to stay in Finland and how attractive they consider Finland.
In the 2017 mid-term policy review, the following targets were set for the Talent Boost programme:
- Finland attracts international talents and utilises their networks for attracting investments.
- Companies utilise the networks and expertise of international talents to support growth and internationalisation.
- The ecosystems and innovation platforms of the business sector as well as the labour market are accessible to international talents and encourage entrepreneurship
It is essential to create a permanent, established model for efforts to attract international talent, which will be applied on both the national and regional level. This helps to ensure that development projects become part of regular activities.
Measures will include targeting country brand communications and personalised marketing communications at international talents, and developing business services and services provided by the authorities to support international recruitment. Measures to attract international talents and to utilise their expertise will be included in the activities of Team Finland such as trade missions and the work of the Team Finland Knowledge network that supports the internationalisation of regional Team Finland coordinators and higher education.
Business Finland has created a marketing communications concept targeting global talents called #Finlandworks, and is building a Workinfinland.fi website. In addition, it will launch the Talent Explorer innovation funding in spring 2019 to encourage companies to recruit international talents.
Measures will focus particularly on the leading sectors that are growing in Finland. These sectors can benefit the most from the expertise and networks of international talents. Another focus group will be sectors with the highest shortage of special expertise. However, the scope will not be too narrow because innovations and new jobs are being increasingly created at interfaces between different sectors.
The potential of international talents already residing in Finland is underutilised in Finnish companies. The programme will develop measures that will help connect companies and international talents more efficiently. Key aspects include linking the expertise of international talents to the growth and internationalisation services provided to companies by Business Finland and to the growth services provided in future by regional governments. The programme will also develop coordinated services for growth centres.
Who participate in the Talent Boost programme and who will lead it?
The programme involves the ministries that are the most relevant to the theme (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Finance). Other partners include Finland’s largest centres of growth: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere and Turku. The programme will also foster continuous stakeholder dialogue.
Talent Boost is a joint programme for the whole Government, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is responsible for its coordination. The Talent Boost steering group will be chaired by Permanent Secretary Jari Gustafsson from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
Cities play a key role in attracting skilled workforce. International talents tend to move to urban regions, which is why the lifestyle choices available and the ease of daily routines make a big difference when a person is considering moving abroad. Urban regions have been leading the way in the development efforts designed to attract international talent.
Talent Boost programme involves creating coordinated service models in growth centres.
Various projects have been launched around Finland to implement Talent Boost in regions and individual 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, Turku and Seinäjoki.
- 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.
Large cities will further develop the services they provide in English (e.g. international schools and early childhood education and care).
In the preparation phase, particularly the models used in Sweden and Denmark have been examined. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland conducted the Government’s research project ‘Immigrants and Innovation Economy’ which explored best practices in Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria: https://tietokayttoon.fi/hankkeet/hanke-esittely/-/asset_publisher/immigrants-and-innovation-economy-immi-
In Denmark, the attraction of talents is closely connected to the attraction of investments. New Zealand, on the other hand, has successfully utilised synergies between attracting tourists and talents.
The global competition for international talents is becoming more and more intense. Many countries have developed programmes for attracting and retaining talents. Until now, Finland has lacked a similar national programme or strategy.
At present, we are losing international talents to other countries because the Finnish labour market, professional networks and business ecosystems are still too cliquish. We have services that support the utilisation of international expertise but from the perspective of companies they are often fragmented and scattered.