How can Finnish companies benefit from the expertise of international experts residing in Finland? How can them be persuaded to stay in the country and integrate into the Finnish society? How does international talent drive business?
Those are the main questions to which a group of professionals from key sectors of the business world, representatives of the central Government, cities and universities will try to answer on 12 November in Turku. It will be during the Talent Boost Summit, which this year will be devoted to discussing how to retain international talent and its importance for business growth.
Talent Boost is a national program aiming to promote immigration of highly skilled workers, students and researchers, and a platform to put them in contact with the companies that most need their services.
90,000 highly skilled specialists needed
The ideas promoted by Talent Boost are not new. Finnish authorities have long been trying to shake off the excessively domestic character of its labor market, which causes the country to lose ground in the global competition. The Government knows that to grow internationally, projects need to be developed in a more international environment within companies.
At the last Talent Boost summit, celebrated in November 2018 in Tampere, experts already agreed that Finland will need to hire around 90,000 foreign highly skilled workers in the next four years, most of them technology specialists for the Information and Communication (ICT) industries.
Finnish companies are well aware that they have a problem of lack of skilled labor. This shortage is noticeable, above all, in the ICT sector. But the country will not only get ahead with software developers. According to official data, there is also a desperate need for qualified and well trained personnel for example in the car and healthcare industries and in the fields of retail and social work.
Linguistic and mental obstacles
Despite the plans and good intentions, for many foreigners who already reside in the country the reality is full of difficulties. Many of them say in social media that the Finnish language is a major barrier to get jobs. They also allege that many potential employers openly tell them in the interviews that they are reluctant to incorporate foreigners into their workforce because they prefer someone who is familiar with the country's work culture.
The Finnish labour market is still very domestic, and many employers have no experience in international recruitment or multicultural working communities, admits Laura Lindeman, Chief Specialist at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Official unemployment figures corroborate there is a problem to bring all those people into the labor market. According to Statistics Finland, the workforce of foreign origin was composed at the end of June 2019 by 124,396 people across the country, of which 29,504 (or 23.7%) were unemployed and actively seeking for jobs. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for the Finnish economy as a whole was 6.2%.
“The Finnish labour market is still very domestic, and many employers have no experience in international recruitment or multicultural working communities", admits Laura Lindeman, Chief Specialist at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. "Talent Boost will offer companies advice and tools for the internationalisation of personnel and the recruitment of international experts,” she says.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment fears that the country may lose its attraction if international experts in Finland have poor experiences of employment and career opportunities. That is the reason why authorities are willing to pay as much attention to retaining talent as to attracting it.
"What makes Finland interesting for international talent, and affects their opportunities of entering the Finnish labour market is attitudes, non-discrimination and diversity of Finnish working life. That is why we should focus equally much on retaining talent as we do on attracting talent,” Lindeman emphasises.
This year, the keynote speaker at Talent Boost will be Yvonne van Hest, Program Director at Brainport Development, an Eindhoven-based expert organisation in regional development. Van Hest leads a team responsible for attracting talent, continuous learning, and innovation in the HR sector.
Register for free for Talent Boost
Talent Boost Summit is organised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the City of Turku, Turku Science Park Ltd, Business Finland, the cities of Tampere, Helsinki and Espoo, ESF-funded 'Kokka kohti Suomea' (Setting the course for Finland) project, and the Ministry of Education and Culture.
This year, around 350 participants are expected to attend the event in Logomo, Turku.
Talent Boost is a free event in English language. If you are willing to participate, you can register for free at the event's website HERE