The majority of respondents said that they have adapted to life in Finland either very or fairly well (79 %). Nearly half (48 %) believe that they were able to adapt in under a year.
However, there are also areas for development. As many as 39 percent are considering leaving Finland in the near future. Almost one in five (17 %) have settled in either somewhat or very poorly. Unemployment, insufficient language skills, and a lack of Finnish friends are most likely to lead to difficulties settling in.
"It is vital for Finland that international talents find their place in Finland and feel welcomed. This needs to be emphasized both in workplaces and in the whole society. During this government term, a lot of work has been done to promote work-related immigration, and the information obtained from this research will help in outlining the remaining challenges", states the Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.
This data was obtained from a recent survey that was answered by highly educated foreigners living in Finland and those who had moved to Finland because of their partner’s work. The survey was conducted between 23 March and 31 May 2022. 753 foreigners living in Finland responded. The survey was conducted by E2 Tutkimus as part of the International Talent Finland Research Project.
Finland’s image has a positive impact on attracting talent
The most important reasons for moving to Finland are work, study, a Finnish partner, and a desire to live here. 54 percent of those who moved to Finland for work had no previous ties to the country. Perceptions of Finland have played a role in people’s decision to move here.
Those who have moved to Finland say that the country’s strengths include a high standard of living, closeness to nature, safety, and a good work-life balance.
"People all around the world are aware of Finland’s strengths. Although this is a good starting point, we must also identify our areas for development. Finland will need even more new talent to boost its future labour force. Even though people find it fairly easy to find employment here, we want to make sure that new recruits enjoy a smooth recruitment process and are happy here", says Pekka Haavisto, the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Although the majority easily find employment, some have to create new careers
Among highly educated people who are working or looking for work, half (51 %) had already secured a position before they moved. Of those who did not yet have a job, the majority (54 %) found work within the first year, and a quarter within the first few months.
Many of those who moved because of a relationship (51 %) had to change their career plans after moving to Finland. About half believe that Finnish employers do not value experience, degrees or networks obtained abroad.
"Although changing your career path can be a good thing, it’s a waste of skills if foreign experts are forced to do this. Foreign experts have skills and networks that are very useful for Finnish companies. More effort needs to be put into identifying and harnessing previously acquired skills to speed up employment," says Laura Lindeman, Senior Director and Head of Work of Business Finland’s Work in Finland unit.
Room for improvement in recruitment methods
Foreign experts see room for improvement in Finnish recruitment methods. About half (51 %) considered it important to have an anonymous recruitment process. Four out of five (78 %) would like any required knowledge of Finnish or Swedish to be mentioned in the job advertisement.
Although 42 percent of respondents have not experienced any discrimination in working life, 39 percent have. Those who have experienced discrimination said that it was mainly related to their language and national backgrounds.
68 percent of those who have experienced discrimination stated that they had been discriminated against before reaching the interview stage. About half have experienced discrimination during a job interview, at the workplace from other employees, or from an external party.
Studying Finnish or Swedish during working hours was considered very important (78 %). There is strong support (86 %) for the use of a common language during informal discussions at the workplace.
"It’s essential for us to provide opportunities for foreigners to work and study in Finland, as this may lead them to stay in Finland permanently. The research results encourage municipalities and companies to employ foreigners as well. It’s important for us to receive research data about this, and in particular information about where we can improve", says the Mayor of Oulu, Päivi Laajala.
"Foreign employees can offer a partial solution to our need for talent in the public sector. We need both expertise in international recruitment and diversity coaching for workplace communities. Language learning alongside work commitments should also be arranged more systematically. According to this study, good colleagues and other friends are also important factors in successfully integrating into our country", says Markku Jalonen, Managing Director of Local Government and County Employers KT.
About the study
The International Talent Finland Research Project is funded by the Confederation of Finnish Industries, Technology Industries of Finland, Local Government and County Employers KT, Keva, Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland, Industrial Employees TP, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Business Finland, and the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, and Oulu.
A hybrid publication event will be held for the survey on 25 October 2022 from 10:30–12:00 at Lasipalatsi. Please register here. You can attend the event either in person or via the live stream.
The research is being conducted by E2 Tutkimus, a non-profit research institute. E2 Tutkimus is a multidisciplinary research institute that provides information to municipalities, ministries, companies, organisations, foundations, political decision-makers, and the media. The project’s duration is between October 2021 and March 2023. Work will be completed ahead of the parliamentary elections in Spring 2023.
The research project will answer the following questions: How can Finland 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? How could people help to create the Finland of tomorrow from abroad? The project’s monitoring committee is chaired by Mikko Räsänen, a senior advisor at the Confederation of Finnish Industries. Johanna Ketola, a senior researcher at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, is the Vice Chair.
Project Director: Docent, Mari K. Niemi, Doctor of Social Sciences
Deputy Director: Docent, Ville Pitkänen, Doctor of Social Sciences
Website and social media: kvosaajiensuomi.com, @kvosaajiensuomi (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
For more information about the project, please contact:
Docent, Mari K. Niemi, D.Soc.Sc.
Director, E2 Tutkimus
+44 773 7161 944
For more information about the research results, please contact:
Docent, Ville Pitkänen, D.Soc.Sc.
Research Manager, E2 Tutkimus
+358 40 7770 869
Matti Välimäki, D.Soc.Sc.
Senior Researcher, E2 Tutkimus
+358 50 5430 191