The professional promotion of migrant workers in Finland

Job-related immigration to Finland is small and finding any job is a major obstacle for immigrants’ integration into Finnish working life, particularly for those with a refugee background. Deficient knowledge in Finnish language, trouble in the recognition of foreign educational qualifications and the lack of work-related guidance given in the non-national employees’ own language can be considered as the main obstacles for the occupational development and career advancement of non-national employees in Finland. Good practices to support migrant workers’ careers are still being advanced.

The number of non-national employees in Finland is still quite low, and it is only about 35,000 persons in total. Many ingrains immigrated to Finland in the 1990s, right after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Many of them had some knowledge of the Finnish language to start with. The Vietnamese and Somali immigrants have arrived mostly as refugees and first Vietnamese immigrants came to Finland in the 1970s, while immigrants from Somalia for the most part came between 1991 and 1993.

The central organizations of labour market parties evaluate that another 30,000 foreign employees work in Finland temporarily each year. The level of unemployment is still high among non-national immigrants, an average of 17, 5% according to the estimate of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and even higher among those with a refugee background.

Consistently public policy has intent on general integration services for immigrants as well as on supporting the immigrants in recruitment and entry to the labour markets, while less emphasis has been put on the promotion of migrant workers’ progression in their working careers. The situation is about to change in the next few years, because job-related immigration is clearly increasing and also new policy programmers are being set up that are more sensitive to the needs of the immigrants who are already in working life.

The main argument is that the educational qualifications obtained in one EU/EEA country and higher education degrees obtained outside EU/EEA countries are eligible for the process of recognition. Anyway, the fact that the education acquired in the country of origin is meant for different labour markets than in Finland. The qualifications often require updating is regarded as a major obstacle for immigrants’ employment and career advancement in Finland.  In addition, employers value Finnish qualifications more than ones acquired outside Finland and acquiring a qualification in Finland significantly improves the possibilities of finding work that corresponds with education.

Till now, there haven´t been public training programmers targeted especially to employ migrant workers although the need for such programmers, specifically Finnish language teaching. Reasonable introduction to work as well as related training is the employer’s responsibility.  Training contracts usually aim at a vocational qualification and require knowledge in the Finnish language. The phenomenon is proportionately new in Finland, because as yet there are relatively few migrant employees. The methods and practices for their workplace and professional promotion are still being developed.


One thought on “The professional promotion of migrant workers in Finland

  1. Although till now, there have not been public training programs targeted especially to employ migrant workers, like was mention in the article, there are some companies that display a good practise of how to deal with migrant workers. One example is company called ISS Services Finland (international facility service provider). It has approximately 13,000 employees in Finland, some 440 of them, or about 3.5% of the personnel in Finland, are migrants. ISS Services Finland has recently implemented an Immigrant Workers’ Training Programme, which includes Finnish language teaching, introduction to the central concepts and legal provisions of working life in Finland, and vocational training. The motivation for setting up the training programme is related to the company’s needs for labour and commitment of the corporate management and supervisory staff to the programme. The programme has been implemented only recently, but the feedback from the supervisors has been positive.


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