Finland faces a challenging future with the declining birth rate and ageing population (1).
The welfare state needs more education and work based immigration to survive (2).
Frustration over international professionals’ struggle to land jobs in Finland increases (3).
Requirements of fluency in Finnish is the number one barrier for employment (4).
We are all growing familiar with these kinds of headlines. There is no way around it: Finland needs to invest more in international professionals — not only in attracting new talent to Finland, but also in solving the struggles with employment and inclusion. The long overdue change requires a shift in attitudes and practices as well as structural amendments across sectors and spheres of life.
That change is now being pushed hard, and in more extensive collaboration than ever before. Are you already familiar with what is happening on the strategic and structural levels to solve the employment challenge? Or have you noticed how these strategies impact the services you get as an international professional?
Holistic quality services across organisational boundaries
”The career coach I spoke to was very friendly and straightforward, paid attention to my needs and wishes and offered guidance based on those.”
“The career coach does a great job and she is very empathetic and helpful. She got me a whole list of advice and possibilities where to find a job and studies in Finland.”
What is your experience of valuable service? These customer quotes highlight the importance of matching opportunities with your needs, regardless of which organisation provides them. Indeed, according to research, efficient and holistic solutions for individuals are created in networks (5).
And, even if Finland is no way near the ideal situation yet, the good news is that a lot is currently being done to make Finland more open and inclusive at all levels. Funding is targeted to steer operations towards the shared goals. New services and projects are popping up like swimmers by a lakeside on a hot summer day.
With the increase in numbers, however, comes the challenge. How can you navigate in the jungle of services? How can you find the right ones for you and not fall between the cracks?
Rather than everybody becoming Sherlock Holmes, Finnish service providers must commit to coordinated collaboration for smooth and knowledgeable services.
Talent Boost and local government pilots on employment: joint efforts to increase access to job market
Strategically speaking, changing the course of this country requires a shared goal as well as coordination and cooperation, both nationally and locally. Luckily, there is a genuine motivation to work in collaborative networks in Finland. And, this is how strategies slowly start dribbling down into the quality of services for you.
On the national level, the cross-administrative Talent Boost programme was launched a few years ago to coordinate the wide variety of services and operators working with international professionals and students in Finland (6). The programme objectives are to make:
- Finland more attractive internationally,
- employers willing and able to recruit international talent and
- international professionals’ expertise to drive internationalisation and renewal of Finnish companies and organisations.
Changes are taking place on the municipal level as well. The new local government pilots on employment are set to improve quality and coordination in employment services (7). The initiative brings about massive restructuring of responsibilities between the state, municipalities, public employment and business services (TE services) and other local actors. The pilot municipalities have taken charge of employment services for selected groups of unemployed jobseekers, including immigrants and foreign-language speakers. The goals of the pilots are ambitious:
- to increase employment,
- to create new solutions,
- to improve access to labour market and
- to develop services and service models in networks.
Both initiatives are in line with the government programme towards a more sustainable and inclusive Finland, built on competence and skills (8).
If one word were to be picked from all these policies and strategies, it would be together.
Network collaboration becoming reality in the Helsinki region: through the lens of Metropolia
Behind the scenes, a hub of networks is indeed buzzing in the Helsinki region. What does this mean in practice for you? A few concrete examples can be explored through the lens of Metropolia SIMHE services (Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland).
Are you unemployed, live in the Helsinki region and have a higher education degree? If yes, you will have access to Metropolia’s guidance and education services to unemployed international professionals, developed in collaboration with the employment pilots of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kerava (9).
Your employment services perhaps guide you directly to the already well-established personal SIMHE guidance. You might join SIMHE group guidance, e.g. Guidance Generalia lectures and smaller group activities. In these services you get support in your study and/or career path from the SIMHE career coaches. They are specialised in guiding international professionals with a higher education degree or wishing to get one. Guidance is based on your needs, competences and career wishes, matching you with the right opportunities in the service networks of the area and Finland.
Are you in a different life situation? Don’t worry, SIMHE guidance services are also available to you. You just need to explore our services and book an appointment yourself on our website.
If your background matches, SIMHE career coaches will guide you to Metropolia’s new Career Boost programmes for unemployed jobseekers. The programmes run in the fields of automation business, business accounting, ICT, nursing and real estate and construction. In these programmes you get to develop and update your field-specific and Finnish language competence and get connected to local employers. A Metropolia expert of your field also maps and documents your competence to help Finnish employers better understand your expertise — and recruit you.
You might also bump into a SIMHE career coach in activities of other organisations and associations, most recently with e.g. Luckan Integration, International Working Women of Finland ry and Nyyti ry, or in social media groups. Vice versa, in Metropolia’s SIMHE activities you can get insights and advice from specialised visiting speakers, e.g. EDUFI on recognition of qualifications, NewCo Helsinki on entrepreneurship or company representatives and international talents themselves on work-related topics such as professional networking or job seeking channels.
In addition, you might end up participating in some of the services developed in the Talent Boost project International Talents Accelerating Growth, e.g. in recruitment events, a Spouse programme, public services of the further developed International House Helsinki or the EntryPoint mentoring programme (transitioning to the City of Espoo in the autumn 2021). If you are a student, maybe you are applying for a job through JobTeaser, a career and recruitment portal launched in collaboration with the higher education institutions in the region. A new Talent Helsinki project, together with similar ones in Espoo and Vantaa, will make sure to continue the coordinated work for more excellent services!
And while looking for a job, did you know for example that companies can apply for Talent Explorer funding from Business Finland when recruiting international professionals for certain types of jobs? Or that they can get advice and counselling service on international recruitment from International House Helsinki?
It is indeed a growing network of experts that are working together to make Finland work for you.
Together towards a Finland 2.0
Certainly, no man is an island — neither is a service provider in a Finland 2.0. Improving employment opportunities for international professionals requires awareness raising and action at all layers of society, from individuals to companies and organisations and the government.
This country can succeed only in collaborative networks. Customised, easily accessible, quality support for international talents is a must, and so is continuity to these services. Service providers as well as strategy makers need to re-think the way they operate and push further. Importantly, you need to have the opportunity to participate in developing the Future Finland.
Yet, crucial to employment is naturally that more and more Finnish companies and organisations change their recruitment practices. Operations must be adjusted towards an inclusive work culture. Luckily, we have a growing number of forerunners showing their colleagues how to do it in a Finland 2.0. Also, the front of organisations helping employers find, recruit and support international professionals is becoming wider and wider.
The road map is there. Let’s take a tiger leap towards the Future Finland together. Now.
Interested in reading more on the topic? See the recent publication:
Stenberg, H., Antikainen, M., Lintala, E. Roivas, M. 2021. Towards a Finland of talents together – insights on the SIMHE operations. Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, TAITO 70.
- Yle 2021. Consultancy: Foreign labour needed to combat population decline. Yle News. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Teivainen, A. 2021. Chamber of Commerce: Finland needs target of 30,000 for skills-based immigration. Helsinki Times. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Faye, N. 2021. “Brain waste” squanders potential and talent in Finland. Yle News. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Rask, S. 2021. The biggest problem internationals face on the Finnish job market – and 3 ways to solve it. Vieraskynä. Mothers in Business blog. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Rautvuori, M. & Jyrämä, A. 2015. Kaupungin kehitystyön kehittäminen – verkostonäkökulma. In Palvelumuotoilu saapuu verkostojen kaupunkiin: Verkosto- ja muotoilunäkökulmia kaupungin palvelujen kehittämiseen (pdf). 119-136. Aalto-yliopiston julkaisusarja. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland. 2021. Talent Boost programme. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland. 2021. Local government pilots on employment. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Government Programme. 2019. Inclusive and competent Finland – a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society. Viewed on 9 June 2021.
- Metropolia. 2021. Metropolia promotes international professionals’ entry to local job market in collaboration with employment pilots. Viewed on 9 June 2021.