The happiest country in the world is looking for immigrants

It is assumed that Finland, which has been repeatedly ranked as the happiest country in the world thanks to its high standard of living, is overwhelmed by immigration requests, but in fact it is facing a significant shortage of labor force. “There is a broad recognition right now that we need a huge number of people,” said Sako Tehverayinen, a recruitment specialist at Talented Solutions. He added that there is a need for labor “to help cover the expenses of the older generation.”

While many Western countries face weak population growth, only a few suffer the consequences to the same extent as Finland.

The age of 39.2 out of every 100 people of working age exceeds 65 years, ranking second after Japan in terms of the proportion of its elderly population, according to United Nations data, which expects the “old-age dependency ratio” to rise to 47.5.

The government has warned that the country of 5.5 million people will have to double immigration levels to between 20,000 and 30,000 a year to maintain public services and control a looming pension deficit.

Finland may seem an attractive destination on paper, topping international assessments of quality of life, freedoms and gender equality with low levels of corruption, crime and pollution.

But anti-immigrant sentiment and a reluctance to hire foreigners are rife in Europe’s most homogeneous society, while the far-right Fenz party is gaining significant support in the election.

critical stage

After years of inactivity, business and government are at a “critical and acknowledgment of the problem” caused by society’s aging, says Charles Mathis, a researcher at the Academy of Finland.

Mathis was among a number of experts consulted for the talent post, which is now in its fourth year and aims to make the Scandinavian country more attractive internationally through local employment schemes.

Target groups include health personnel from Spain, metal workers from Slovakia, and IT and marine experts from Russia, India and Southeast Asia. But such efforts have failed in the past.

In 2013, seven of the eight Spanish nurses hired in the western town of Vaasa left after only a few months, citing Finland’s high cost of living, cold weather and complex language.

However, there have been a lot of immigrants coming to Finland over the last decade, with 15,000 arrivals outnumbering those leaving in 2019.

But official statistics indicate that many of the people who leave the country have the highest levels of education.

Faced with the largest shortage of skilled workers among OECD countries, some Finnish start-ups have begun setting up joint recruitment sites in an effort to attract talent abroad.

“As you can imagine, it’s slowly getting better,” Sean Radden of Walt meal delivery company said in an email. We are trying to make the transition as easy as possible.”

systematic problem

Helsinki Mayor Jan Fabaviori told AFP that the start-ups “told me that they could bring anyone in the world to work for them in Helsinki”, but that “these husbands will have very big problems getting a decent job.”

Many foreigners complain of widespread reluctance to recognize foreign experience and qualifications, as well as prejudices in dealing with non-Finnish job seekers.


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