Constantly referred to as the happiest country across the globe with amazing living standards, Finland is inundated with people desperately wanting to migrate to the country yet it faces an acute shortage of workforce. This is the irony facing the country today.
“Now it is broadly acknowledged that we require a spectacular number of people to enter the country,” recruiter Saku Tihverainen at agency Talented Solutions told AFP.
Workers are required “to cover the cost of the greying generation,” he explained.
In the majority of Western countries growth of population is poor, however, the situation is very critical in Finland.
With 39.2% of the working population falling in the age group of 65, Finland is second only to Japan in the terms of the aging population, reveals the UN that predicts that the “old-age dependency ratio” will increase to 47.5 by 2030.
The Finland administration has cautioned that the country of 5.5 million people requires to practically double immigration levels around 20,000 to 30,000 yearly to maintain public services and plug an impending pensions deficit.
An attractive destination on many counts, Finland scores heavily worldwide in terms of quality of life, freedom and gender equality with a good track record in dealing with corruption, crime and pollution.
However, anti-immigrant sentiments and a reluctance to recruit outsiders are also widespread in Western Europe’s many homogeneous societies, and the opposition far-right Finns Party routinely draws substantial assistance during elections.
With around 15,000 more people arriving than leaving in 2019, Finland has seen net immigration in the past decade. But most of the people who left the country are highly educated, official statistics indicate.
As some Finnish start-ups are facing the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) largest skilled worker shortage and they are jointly creating a careers site to better attract overseas talent.
Start-ups “have told me they can get anyone in the world to come and work for them in Helsinki, as long as they are single”, told Jan Vapaavuori, the capital’s mayor, to AFP. But “their spouses still have big problems getting a decent job”.
Many foreigners have complained of a broad reluctance to recognise the overseas experience and prejudice against non-Finnish applicants. Saku Tihverainen said that shortages are pushing many firms to drop their reservation regarding hiring only native Finnish workers.
UN has ranked Finland as the world’s happiest country for the past four years; however, Jan Vaaavuori feels that has “not helped as much as we could have hoped”.
“If you stop someone in the street in London or New York or Paris or Rome, I still don’t think most people know about us,” he mused.
However, Jan Vaaavuori is optimistic about Finland’s ability to gain traction in Asia in the future and believes that people’s priorities will change once the threat of Covid-19 recedes.