Finland has taken a step further in removing obstacles for immigrants trying to make their way through its intricate labor market.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment announced today on a press release that, as of June 2019, labor market test, or the process of determining the availability of labor, will no longer apply to holders of a residence permit for an employed person who have worked in Finland for at least one year and who are transferring to another sector.
Labor market test, as defined by the European Commission, is "a mechanism that aims to ensure that migrant workers are only admitted after employers have unsuccessfully searched for national workers".
Within the European Union member states, the term 'national workers' also would apply to citizens of other countries of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) and even to legally residing third-country nationals with access to the labor market according to national legislation.
However, according to the EU regulations, member states are entitled to apply different methodologies when undertaking the labor market tests. And Finland has been applying this mechanism to the foreign workers who need residence permits when changing their work field. But this situation will change within a few weeks.
According to the information provided by the Finnish Government, "the objective of this legislative amendment is to improve labor mobility".
Professional qualification needed
The Amendments to Finland's Aliens Act will be effective as of 1 June 2019. One of the amendments is the removal of the labor market test for employees applying for an extension to the residence permit for an employed person who are transferring to another sector.
But the liberalization will not be complete. The new regulation will demand that those persons who aspire to benefit must still meet two major requirements: first, they will have to proof "at least one year of employment in Finland with a residence permit for an employed person"; second, they must possess "a professional qualification for the sector in question" to which they wish to transfer.
The details on how this requirement of a "professional qualification" will be checked have not been explained yet. But the Governmental release said that "Employment and Economic Development Offices will continue to assess the employer’s operating environment pursuant to the Aliens Act".
The Finnish government justified the adoption of this measure on the grounds that "many sectors are experiencing a growing labor shortage. It is therefore necessary to –in addition to other measures– improve the labor mobility of foreign citizens already in the labor market".
"A major change"
The official release predicts that this "removal of the labor market test for persons already working in Finland and transferring to other sectors will only apply to a few dozen residence permit applicants per year. However, in individual cases the legislative amendment may represent a major change, since it improves the supply of labor".
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment expects that legislative amendments will increase the supply of labor particularly in the cleaning services, manufacturing industry, and the construction and metal industry, and to some extent in the garden and agricultural sectors.
"In many of the sectors, the Centers for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment are now applying a more permissive labor market test as part of their work permit policies", says the Government.