Half have doubts towards employers
Roughly half of highly educated foreigners living in Finland do not believe that Finnish employers value experience, degrees or networks that have been obtained abroad.
This was revealed by a recent survey for highly educated foreign experts living in Finland and those who had moved to Finland because of their partner’s work.
The survey shows that there are a lot of positive things as well. For example, the majority of highly educated foreigners living in Finland have settled in well and work in positions that match their qualifications.
However, many things could be better.
Of the respondents, 39 percent had experienced discrimination in working life. Those who had experienced discrimination said that it was related to their language and national origin.
68 percent of these people had been discriminated against before being invited to a job interview. About half had experienced discrimination during a job interview, in the workplace by other employees or by someone outside the workplace.
32 percent of the women who had experienced discrimination believed that the discrimination was related to gender, while 8 percent of men said the same.
“The results are not flattering. A non-discriminatory workplace can be achieved through systematic efforts, one thing at a time. For example, the prevention and elimination of linguistic discrimination is possible by creating an open dialogue about language in the workplace. Through discussion, every workplace can find the right language policy for them,” says Sirkku Pohja, Work Life Specialist at the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK.
Many are considering leaving Finland
Of the survey respondents, 39 percent are considering leaving Finland in the near future. Unemployment, insufficient language skills and a lack of Finnish friends have a crucial effect on how well people settle in.
The study also reveals that doctors (29%) have less trouble settling in due to difficulties in finding a job than bachelor’s (57%) and master’s degree holders (50%).
On the other hand, 51% of those who had moved to the country because of a relationship had to change their career plans after moving to Finland and often so that many feel overqualified for their current job.
The survey was conducted last year and was answered by 753 foreigners living in Finland. Most of the respondents had a university degree (94%), three out of four had a job and three out of four had lived in Finland for over 2 years.
The study was conducted by E2 Tutkimus as part of the International Talent Finland Research Project, which is funded by the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK, among others.
One of the aims of the project is to examine how Finland can become a country that invites, engages and attracts talent, and where it is easy for expatriate Finns to return or foreigners to come and work.
Text: Henrik Muukkonen, Translation: Apropos Lingua
It all comes down to merits
The share of international academic staff at Aalto University has grown constantly. 28 percent of the tenure track professors and 45 percent of the entire teaching and research staff are foreigners.
“International faculty members introduce new perspectives and approaches. We want to ensure that our graduates have the skills they need to work in international positions and tackle global challenges, so it is only natural that our faculty also include foreign experts,” says HR Manager Hanne Puskala from the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering.
In terms of pull factors, she mentions Aalto’s good reputation and work environment, the opportunity to develop teaching, and the broad networks for furthering careers.
Vacant professorships are advertised in international publications and forums in the field of technology and in the networks for professors.
“We also carry out talent search. Our professoriate has contacts with universities that conduct high-quality research in the field that is inviting applications. This is one way in which we can organize targeted searches.”
The recruitment process is structured and all candidates are evaluated by the same criteria.
“Expertise in the field is the most important thing. Our choices are based entirely on merit: what the candidate has achieved in terms of research, education and impact. We value significant advances and breakthroughs.”
“We may also send out an invitation if we know of an internationally successful professor in the particular field we need. Even then, we use the same criteria.”
The nationality or the country does not matter.
“It is a good idea to read through the selection criteria carefully and reflect them against your situation: where are you now and what should you focus on,” says Puskala.
When a foreign staff member first starts working at the university, HR and the host school try to help them with any questions they may have and support the integration of the whole family. This is done in cooperation with other universities in the capital region and with other cities.
“If your partner needs a job, we will at least interview them and find out if one of the schools at Aalto or the University of Helsinki might need someone like them. The University of Helsinki may ask us to do the same.”
Aalto has a comprehensive orientation programme.
“It is important that all our new professors and lecturers feel welcome and that they are an important part of the organization. At the School of Electrical Engineering, new assistant professors are given a mentor who is a professor from the same or another department of the school. They provide peer support as a colleague, in addition to the supervisor and HR.”
“We support everyone who is working as a supervisor so that they know how to include new members in their work community and understand the importance of the early stages, in particular. Supervisors often delegate orientation tasks to other team members as well: successful orientation is a joint effort and benefits everyone.”
According to Puskala, there are a number of reasons why Aalto University manages to retain its international talent, and one of these is the tenure track system.
“A lecturer or professor progresses along the tenure track according to mid-term reviews based on their merits. This means that our professors and lecturers compete only against themselves, not against each other. Some of the best universities may hire, say, three people, but after four years, only one of them may continue.”
Other retaining factors are the education opportunities and the possibility to improve as a professional and broaden your networks.
“We focus on occupational wellbeing, a sense of community and a supportive atmosphere. Receiving positive feedback and the appreciation of the community.”