Finland, which has been labeled the happiest nation on the planet with world-beating living standards, should be inundated with people looking to relocate, but it is actually experiencing a severe labor shortage.
Finland today has a widespread understanding that it needs a massive influx of Migrants. Workers are needed “to help offset the cost of the greying generation”. While many Western countries are grappling with slow population growth, Finland is particularly affected.
According to the UN, it is second only to Japan in terms of the extent of its aging population, with 39.2 over-65s per 100 working-age persons. The UN predicts that by 2030, the “old-age dependency ratio” will climb to 47.5.
To maintain public services and cover a projected pension shortfall, the administration has warned that the 5.5 million-strong country needs to nearly quadruple immigration to 20,000-30,000 people per year.
On paper, Finland appears to be an appealing location, with high scores in international comparisons for quality of life, freedom, and gender equality, as well as low levels of corruption, crime, and pollution.
However, in Western Europe’s most homogeneous culture, anti-immigrant sentiment and a reluctance to hire outsiders are widespread, and the opposition far-right Finns Party usually receives large support during elections. Industry and government “are now at the tipping point and are realizing the problem” posed by a greying population after years of inaction.
Now in its fourth year, the “Talent Boost” programme strives to increase the country’s international appeal, in part through local recruitment methods.
Health workers from Spain, metalworkers from Slovakia, and IT and marine expertise from Russia, India, and Southeast Asia are among those targeted. However, prior attempts have failed.
In 2013, five of the eight Spanish nurses sent to Vaasa in western Finland left after only a few months, citing Finland’s high prices, chilly weather, and infamously difficult language as reasons. Despite this, Finland has had net immigration for much of the last decade, with approximately 15,000 more individuals arriving in 2019 than departing.
Official figures reveal that many of those leaving the country are persons with higher education. Faced with the OECD’s largest skilled worker shortage, some Finnish firms are collaborating to create a single careers portal in order to better recruit international talent.
But many non-Finnish candidates complain of widespread unwillingness to recognize their overseas experience or qualifications, as well as bias against non-Finnish applicants.