Despite the coronavirus crisis, Finland still needs international experts. We interviewed Mikko Valtonen, a specialist at the Finland Chamber of Commerce, who says Finland should invest in attracting global talent.
Talent Shortage in Finland continues
Like in many other European countries, the population in Finland is aging and the talent shortage is getting worse. In some sectors, the shortage has temporarily narrowed due to the economic crisis following the coronavirus. In many sectors, however, the shortage remains as big as before the coronavirus. For example, in the IT sector, there is still a need for very specific skills that cannot be found in Finland, says Mikko Valtonen, a specialist at the Finland Chamber of Commerce. “You can’t just compare the number of unemployed with the number of job vacancies. It is a question of what kind of talent is needed. The situations are individual and different companies have different needs.”
Valtonen also points out that the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus will be over, and it is important to prepare for the next period of economic growth in time. “It has been learned from past periods of economic growth that when the need for skills is growing again, it is too late to think about how to attract these skills.”
Attracting international experts to Finland
Finland competes for top talents with many better-known countries. When studying the preferences of global experts, Finland is not among the most preferred target countries. “Finland’s attractiveness is weakened by, for example, its location and climate. These issues are difficult to influence, so the focus should be on highlighting Finland’s strengths, like the safe and reliable society, good work-life balance and clean nature”, Valtonen says.
International experts don’t always know Finland’s strengths, but active marketing must be done to attract them. However, Valtonen points out that there are not enough resources to target everyone. Instead, the marketing must be targeted at the kind of know-how that companies need. It’s important to work closely with companies, so that the marketing is based on their needs.
Helping companies to recruit from abroad
According to Valtonen, the ability of companies to hire international experts needs to be further developed. “It is not about companies not wanting to hire foreigners, but rather it is a matter of their skills, so the threshold for first international recruitment is high. However, many recruiters say that when the first foreign employee is hired, they have noticed that it actually works very well.”
“It is important for companies to identify their own strengths and weaknesses in hiring foreigners. The Chambers of Commerce help companies explore their own capacity to hire foreigners and provide tools to support development.” According to Valtonen, language requirements are still a common problem as well. “We are working to ensure that the Finnish language is not always such a strong requirement. It is worth considering whether the Finnish language is really necessary at work or whether English skills would be enough.”
According to Valtonen, many companies do not recruit from abroad if there is a single bad experience with it, for example with the permit processes. “Applicants often have to wait for a work permit for several months. This is far too long for applicants and companies. The Chamber of Commerce proposes that the maximum processing time for work-based residence permits should be set at one month. This requires sufficient resources for the Finnish Immigration Service and Finnish missions abroad.”
Relocation services supporting international recruitment
Smooth relocation is a significant competitive factor in attracting experts. According to FRS’s clients, relocation services have in some cases even been the reason to accept the job offered. Especially those international experts who have moved several times and are used to receiving relocation assistance in other countries, appreciate the possibility when moving to Finland as well.
Professional relocation services can also increase the courage of companies to hire from abroad. Immigration processes with permit applications are complex. However, they can be handled smoothly with the help of an expert specialized in relocation. For example, FRS customers usually receive work permits even below the target time, when others have to wait on average for up to 4-6 months. Particularly during the corona epidemic, immigration processes and rapidly changing situations have required the help of an experienced professional. Without our help many international recruitments would not have been possible.
Read more:Coronavirus, global mobility, interview, relocation, residencepermit, work-based immigration