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. Talent Boost is a national collaboration platform for the development of talent-related services.
The programme coordinates policies on employment, business and industry, immigration, and research, education and innovation (RDI) with a view to strengthening the availability of skilled labour, labour market matching, the quality and internationalisation of companies and RDI activities. In addition, the programme promotes investments in Finland, the employment of foreign students, researchers and their spouses as well as the recruitment and diversity skills of employers.
Due to its demographic structure, Finland needs more immigration to ensure a functioning labour market and wellbeing in the society. The coronavirus epidemic has had a significant impact on the labour market, but it does not change population forecasts.
International talent refers to skilled immigrants or Finnish returnees with international experience, expertise and connections that generate benefit for Finnish society, business and industries and cater to the needs of the labour force. Foreign students, researchers, posted workers, 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, especially as they try to expand and become more international. Companies need more skilled workers and with different specialties than Finland has to offer.
To become leaders in their fields, Finnish operators must be able to attract the best international talent, or those with the greatest potential. This applies to companies, higher education institutions and innovation operators.
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 contributes to alleviating Finland’s labour shortage.
Finland needs more skilled labour. Human capital plays an increasingly important part in promoting competitiveness, and the global competition for talent is intense. The world is open and the options available to international talents are enormous. 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 and to improve awareness and recognition of Finland globally. On the other hand, 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. Talent Boost aims to change this too.
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.
1. Finland will become an internationally attractive place to work, study and carry out research.
2. Employers are willing and able to recruit international talent.
3. The expertise of international specialists will drive the internationalisation and renewal of Finnish companies and organisations.
Talent Boost provides a platform for Finland’s international, national and regional efforts to attract and retain international talent. This helps to ensure that development projects become part of regular activities, such as the Team Finland network of Finnish operators abroad. 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 network of Finnish missions, 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 labour shortage.
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 Raimo Luoma, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and Anita Lehikoinen, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The Talent Boost programme is implemented across Finland in cities and municipalities of different sizes. In addition to work, the lifestyle choices available and the ease of daily routines make a big difference to a person considering moving to another country. Urban regions have been leading the way in development efforts designed to attract international talent.
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.
Global development trends and solutions of other countries will be monitored in order to develop the action plan. At the end of 2020, the Government’s joint analysis, assessment and research activities (VN TEAS) released a report “Attraction of talent and work-based residence permit processes in the reference countries", which examined Finland’s prospects of attracting international experts through case studies and compared the Finnish work-based residence permit system with the systems of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Finland’s position in the competition for international talent can be assessed, for example, by: OECD indicators “The OECD Indicators of Talent Attractiveness” compares countries’ ability to attract and retain highly educated workers (those with Master's or doctoral degrees), entrepreneurs and higher education students from their perspective. In 2019, Finland ranked 4th in the student target group, but in the group of highly educated experts, Finland ranked 17th and in the group of entrepreneurs, Finland ranked 8th. In the broader Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) for 2020, which compared the ability of different countries to raise top talents, to attract them from abroad and to retain them, Finland ranked as the 7th best country in the world of the 132 countries assessed.
The global competition for international talent is becoming more and more intense. Many countries have developed programmes for attracting and retaining talent. Finland has not had a comparable national programme or strategy before.
Finland’s higher education institutions attract thousands of foreigners, both researchers and students. In 2019, foreign students accounted for 6.8% of all students in higher education institutions, which is higher than the average in OECD countries. In 2019, 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 4,500 academic degrees in Finland in 2019; almost 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.
In the internationalisation programme of higher education institutions, which was launched in 2021, the Talent Boost operations are a second key priority alongside the global programme. The internationalisation programme is funded from the strategy funding included in the basic funding of higher education institutions. Talent Boost measures will develop cooperation between higher education institutions and companies, help integrate international students arriving for various reasons by strengthening the Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland (SIMHE) functions and by developing and increasing the supply in studies of Finnish as a second language. In addition, individual higher education institutions will receive funding to strengthen and support regional Talent Hub activities.
Yes, it is. At the moment, about half of the international students who have completed their degrees in Finland are employed in Finland, with some variation in the different sectors. The Finnish education system is of high quality and universities offer a wide range of degrees in English. As part of the Talent Boost activities, efforts will be made to improve the employment opportunities of international students, to integrate students into working life during their studies through traineeships, for example, and to increase education in national languages. It is good to note that in Finland, employment in many sectors requires the knowledge of national languages.
Measures taken during the studies are key in finding a job, as traineeships and other work projects open doors to working life and increase cooperation between higher education institutions and employers. Career services at universities support the employment of students. Employers in the private and public sectors also play a key role in employment.
Yes, because international students have already integrated in Finland. It is a loss in particular, if students are motivated to find work in Finland but are unable to do so despite suitable degrees. According to the Eurostudent (2020) study, 50% of international students want to find employment in Finland after their studies while 40% of them are not yet sure of their plans. International students therefore hold great potential for the Finnish labour market.
Since 2016, universities and universities of applied sciences have had the right to charge tuition fees from students outside the European Union and the European Economic Area, who come to Finland to study for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a foreign language. Tuition fees became obligatory in higher education institutions from 1 August 2017. The number of new foreign degree students temporarily fell by 17% in universities of applied sciences and by 34% in universities between 2016 and 2017. Since then, the number of foreign students in universities of applied sciences has grown. In universities, the number of foreign students has fluctuated more and it fell slightly in 2018–2019. However, most of the new foreign students come from outside the EU/ETA: 77% of those completing a university of applied sciences degree and 71% of those completing a higher education degree in 2019.