By June this year, we have met over 800 highly educated immigrants in personal guidance at SIMHE-Metropolia (1). In 2018, we met more women than men in personal guidance. Although, the gender ratio has been fairly equal among the sexes in previous years too. In general, immigrant-background women face more difficulties in entering the labour market compared to their male counterparts as pointed out by 2018 OECD report on skills and labour market integration of immigrants in Finland (2).
Career mentoring is a joint effort towards better employability
I have volunteered as a mentor for an immigrant-background lady in the Finnish Family Federation’s nine-month Womento mentoring programme (3) in 2018-2019. The programme has been running since 2011 to pair up highly educated female immigrants and native Finnish women. The mentor-menteer pairs usually share similar educational and professional backgrounds.
Thus, our autumn 2018 group had 12 mentor-mentee pairs with the mentees interested in finding careers in their field in Finland. I was also happy to find few of my previous SIMHE customers among the mentees in our group. Furthermore, the mentors have a long experience in their field and a genuine interest to support their mentees. As a result, the mentees become more familiar with the Finnish society and working-life.
We have met with my mentee in the joint sessions at the Finnish Family Federation and in our one-to-one meetings about once or twice in every two months since October 2018. As we shared common interests and educational background, it has been of mutual benefit to talk, share experiences and discuss about the trends in the field. My mentee had education as her main goal and we have been very pleased that she has accomplished her goal during our mentoring voyage.
I have now been a mentor twice in my professional life. At first, in Metropolia’s own mentoring programme in 2017-2018 and now in the Womento programme. Therefore, I strongly recommend mentoring to anyone who is willing to support others in finding their way in working life and in Finland. Above all, the small investment you put in as your time and devotion results in many wonderful encounters and enticing discussions. Additionally, you will get new and fresh idea for you to use as well.
How to make Finland a home – let’s focus on the spouses
Finland is in need of international talents (4) due to an ageing population and already existing competence-deficit in some fields. Many brave newcomers have already moved here with their families. Universities, like Aalto University (5) in Helsinki region as well as Finnish business sector (6) have also paid attention to make it all easier to move to Finland – also with the family.
It is somewhat common that women move to Finland along with their company-recruited husbands. Thus, highly educated wives are also looking for their path in Finland. Some of them have perhaps spent several years at home due to taking care of their children. Once your family has settled in at work, daycare or school, you wish to get back to business too!
Companies do try to make it better for people to settle. For instance, I participated in a Supercell spouse event in May to introduce our SIMHE services. Albeit, this was not a new concept at Supercell as they had had a spouse event (7) also in 2018. The get-together was well organised with guest speakers from municipality services like International House Helsinki (8), well-being experts from Compass Psychology (9) to start-up scene at Shortcut (10). There was also plenty of time to mingle prior to and after the presentations. I had vivid discussions with some affluent ladies from Mexico, Singapore, Russia, Kazakstan and India over a buffet meal.
It’s a woman’s world
Moving between countries and settling into new cultures is more and more prevalent trend in our contemporary world. Although, giving immigrant women possibilities to integrate in the society through education and work benefits not only them, but also their families and the Finnish society in general.
Living in a new country without any connection to education or work can be a daunting experience for an educated person. However, I have met many courageous ladies who are ready to tackle the obstacles. In conclusion, English writer Virginia Woolf has encapsulated this phenomenon so well nearly a century ago in her quote “As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world”.
- SIMHE-Metropolia website: https://www.metropolia.fi/en/about-us/simhe/ (Read 3 June 2019)
- OECD (2018), Working Together: Skills and Labour Market Integration of Immigrants and their
Children in Finland, OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264305250-en
- Väestöliitto website: https://www.vaestoliitto.fi/monikulttuurisuus/womento/career-mentoring/ (Read 3 June 2019)
- Kauppakamarin linjaus: Suomi ei selviä ilman työperusteista maahanmuuttoa https://kauppakamari.fi/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/tyoperusteinen-maahanmuuttolinjaukset.pdf (Read 3 June 2019)
- Aalto University website: https://www.aalto.fi/fi/palvelut/for-families-and-spouses (Read 3 June 2019)
- TalentBoost Finland website: https://www.businessfinland.fi/en/do-business-with-finland/work-in-finland/in-brief/ (Read 3 June 2019)
- Business Tampere news 14.3.2018. International talents boost growth – Talent Boost Spouse event on 22 March: https://businesstampere.com/international-talents-boost-growth-talent-boost-spouse-event-on-22-march/ (Read 3 June 2019)
- International House Helsinki website: https://www.ihhelsinki.fi/ (Read 3 June 2019)
- Compass Psychology website: https://compasspsychology.fi/ (Read 3 June 2019)
- Shortcut website: https://theshortcut.org/ (Read 3 June 2019)