Finland must stop wasting its international talent potential


Tiina Henry-Biabaud


How can we benefit better foreign expert talent in Finnish working life? This difficult question was asked at the multicultural working life seminar in Helsinki on Tuesday 31 January.

Sonja Hämäläinen, Migration Director from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, emphasised that Finland needs immigration as the solution to demographic challenges.

– Immigration is not only about us helping people who move here. We must identify the skills they have and find out how to benefit from their talent, she said.

Hämäläinen pointed out that it is not only Finland that has demographic challenges and can benefit greatly from immigration. Western countries are in international competition for talent. The better multicultural working life Finland has to offer, the better it will do in this competition.

Companies should create fair and inclusive HRM policies 

Aulikki Sippola, Diversity Management Specialist from CR network FIBS, spoke about diversity and including management. According to Sippola, companies should create fair, inclusive HRM policies, processes and practices. Business leaders must understand that people are different and they are also motivated in different ways.

– Diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. Inclusion is not beneficial only for people who come from different cultures but it is beneficial for everybody. None of us is the “average person”, she reminded.

There is too much unused talent

Niko Ferm, Secretary General from Aalto University Student Union, has been studying the employability of international graduates in the field of technology and business. 

– In my study, I found out that the two major challenges for foreign job seekers in Finland are lack of Finnish language skills and the right networks. Finnish graduates have had their whole life to create networks, whereas international students only spend two to four years in the university creating networks while studying.

He also learned that many people come to Finland because studying is free and they can study in English. The quality of research is also an important factor for many international students who arrive in Finland.

After studies about 77 percent of international graduates would like to stay and work in Finland. However, only 50 percent of all international higher education graduates are employed.

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Finnish international graduate

I graduated HAMK at Valkeakoski. I have tried for long time to find an internship for my studies in Finland, but I did not succeed. I studied Industrial Management. So I did not have a hope to get a good job in Finland after studies neither, so I moved back to Latvia and found a Project Manager job at sewing factory, which was really good position.
Of course my fault is that I do not speak Finnish. But still I would not speak Finnish for at least next 5-10 years due to it is so complicated and until the point I would speak professional Finnish I would be working simple jobs. And I did not want to waste 5-10 years of my life
Thank you!

All companies demand "Erinomainen Suomen kieli tiedot"

Dear Vitalijs

Don't feel bad. Learning finnish could help you get job here but certainly not as a's very rare to get a manager position for any foreigner in Finland, even those that know finnish...

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