International tech graduates are becoming cheap labour
"It is crucial to have all students complete their theses at companies", says Jari Jokinen, the CEO of Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland (TEK).
A third of international students who graduate from technical fields leave Finland right after graduation and only a half find employment within a year. According to statistics collected by Vipunen, the statistics service of Finland's educational administration, eight percent of those who find employment and remain in Finland work outside of their own field, which mainly means cleaning work.
At the same time, international tech graduates are becoming cheap labour when compared to Finnish tech graduates. The recent Graduate Survey conducted by TEK showed that the average salary of a Finnish tech graduate was 3 400 euros while the average salary of an international tech graduate was 2 800 euros, or 18 percent lower.
"Part of the difference may be explained by the fact that Finnish students have significantly more work experience as they graduate. Moreover, some of the international graduates are not employed in their own field, which is reflected in the salary level. The situation changes somewhat if we only compare the average salaries of graduates employed in their own fields. This brings the difference down to 15 %. Finns earn 3 500 euros per month while international graduates earn 3 000 euros a month", says TEK analyst Arttu Piri.
The employment prospects of Finnish students and international students look very different at the moment of graduation in other respects as well. At the moment of graduation, only 12% of Finnish students were looking for work while 34% of international students were without a job. The lack of contacts within companies is a major barrier for the employment of international students. Finnish students usually complete their theses for a company, while international students complete theirs for universities or research institutes.
"At the moment of graduation, Finnish students are typically in permanent employment in the private sector. For this reason, it would be important to have all international students complete their theses at companies as well. In Tampere this has already been done successfully in the master's degree programme in industrial engineering and the numbers look very different," says TEK's CEO Jari Jokinen.
Jokinen thinks that employers should get to know and appreciate those who come from abroad.
"The job market is truly international and we need more competent specialists in Finland. Furthermore, everyone educated in Finland should be able to compete in the Finnish job market. We must add basic Finnish studies to all international programmes. The world is changed with deeds", Jokinen suggests.
TEK's Graduate Survey involved academic engineers and architects all over Finland who graduated in 2019. The survey garnered 2 270 respondents, which accounts for 76% of the academic engineers and architects who graduated last year. 77% of the respondents were Finnish, 19% were from outside of the EU and 4% were from other EU countries. The survey was conducted in cooperation with universities of technology.