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Government report proposes extensive programme to speed up integration of immigrants

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
17.6.2021 14.05 | Published in English on 17.6.2021 at 14.33
Press release

The importance of successful integration is growing in Finland as the working-age population is ageing and the number of people with an immigrant background is increasing. A Government report on integration proposes an extensive programme to better support immigrants in their integration. 

The Government report on the need for a reform in integration promotion services is related to a report the parliamentary Audit Committee prepared during the last parliamentary term, urging a reform of integration promotion. The Government report presents a broad range of measures that aim to:

•    Accelerate immigrants’ paths to work and education.
•    Promote the inclusion of immigrants in working life and more broadly in society. 
•    Support especially immigrant women, and thereby their families, in settling in Finland. 
•    Increase receptiveness in the workplace and prevent polarisation in society. 

– In their current form, integration measures do not reach all immigrants well enough. We need a broad range of inputs and changes to promote the integration of immigrants outside the labour force. The employment rate of immigrants does grow over time, but it takes too long, Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen says.

Finland ranked second in the 2020 Migration Integration Policy Index. Finland did particularly well in terms of labour market mobility, education, political participation, permanent residence and access to nationality. Finland has a lower foreign-born employment rate than the other Nordic countries. However, the difference to the native-born employment rate is smaller in Finland than in Sweden and Denmark. 

Strengthening women’s inclusion is the key to change

The main integration challenges are reflected in the inclusion of women and the employment rate of immigrants, which is lower than that of the general population. One of the key ways to address these challenges is the integration programme proposed in the report that would introduce measures that are more efficient at the early stages of integration and reinforce the means of helping immigrants to find work and access education and training. 

The programme would also create a framework for promoting the integration of immigrants who are outside the labour force. This will improve the integration opportunities of immigrant women, especially of stay-at-home mothers. 

– Women with immigrant backgrounds are an important resource that should be better tapped for the benefit of society. Many of them have extensive skills and training that would go to waste if they stayed outside working life. Women’s inclusion leads to permanent, intergenerational changes. If we succeed in strengthening the inclusion of women, it will resolve many other issues, too, says Minister Haatainen.

Service system must better cater for immigrants’ needs

It is important to develop the service and education system in ways that take better account of the needs of immigrants. It will facilitate the immigration of families and children.

– We see it too often in families with immigrant backgrounds that children inherit their parents’ income and education levels. We must help disadvantaged families to break this cycle so that they can put down roots in their new home country and complete the long cycle of integration. 

Many of the Government’s employment-boosting reforms aim to improve the employment of immigrants, too. In addition to these reforms, the Government report on integration presents a number of measures to accelerate the employment of immigrants and improve the receptiveness of working life. 

– We must find ways to help immigrants learn the language, and we must introduce new elements into workplace and vocational education and training and upgrading of qualifications to facilitate employment so that as many as possible will find work sooner than at present, says Minister Haatainen. 

Social attitudes hinder the employment of immigrants 

While it is important for successful integration that immigrants themselves are active, it is even more essential that attitudes in society facilitate integration instead of complicating it. The public, private and third sectors must cooperate to eliminate discrimination during recruitment and other negative attitudes in the labour market. 
 
– Studies show that job applicants, whose name or mother tongue suggest they might have a foreign background, are less often invited to interviews. This happens even when their qualifications, work experience and sometimes even language skills match those of other applications, Minister Haatainen says. 

Stronger integration role needed for third sector operators

The contribution of many organisations and clubs is already now significant in promoting integration. In the future, this role should be even stronger, according to the Government report. 

– The report proposes to strengthen the role of organisations alongside the official integration measures. Genuine integration often takes place at playing fields and in associations and parishes – in all the places where Finns, too, spend their time, says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.

Inquiries: 

Timo Nevaranta, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 50 574 1430 or timo.nevaranta(at)tem.fi
Sonja Hämäläinen, Migration Director, tel.  +358 50 456 0866 or sonja.hamalainen(at)tem.fi
Sari Haavisto, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 50 327 2145 or sari.haavisto(at)tem.fi
Hanna Säntti, Communications Specialist, tel. +358 50 356 2556 or hanna.santti(at)tem.fi

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