February 19, 2020

Bridge the talent gap by skill-building

Anne Badan

Co-founder & CEO, The Shortcut

Being the ‘world’s happiest nation’ is one of the best ways to attract new talent to Finland. However, when it comes to the realities of the job market here, there is a very serious and real shortage of high-skilled workers, especially in the tech sector. In fact, it’s estimated that Finland will need 53 000 new technology experts by 2021 and over 10 000 new software developers in the coming four years. This is a problem.

Over the last 20 years, Finland has begun a transformation into a culturally diverse country, and the Finnish job market has become more vibrant with international talent over the years. However, the unemployment rate amongst immigrants, even highly educated migrants, is nearly triple the average. This group of high-skilled migrants is filled with those that have the mindset, ability and willingness to learn and adapt fast.

If Finland becomes a revolving door for talent, we will lose as much talent as we bring in. Improving retention should be the top priority. Presently, however, recruiters focus most of their efforts on talent attraction. If the family members of relocated employees aren’t integrated successfully, they will not stay. The inability to retain these employees is not only quite costly, it is also preventing Finland from achieving its employment goals and being more competitive in the broader landscape.

If Finland becomes a revolving door for talent, we will lose as much talent as we bring in.

The startup ecosystem in Finland has been actively working with international talent — but what’s needed is a system of transparent, merit-based hiring processes across all sectors. We hear countless stories of experts not being considered for roles when they can’t not be the most qualified person for the job. At a time when the talent gap is widening, we should be looking to the top employers in the country to make a commitment to implement better practices in their hiring to be more inclusive and increase diversity.

This is also the perfect time for international talent to take advantage of the shortage. For professionals, it’s good to constantly learn and catch up with industry trends, especially tech skills. My advice to foreign talents: start building your network. No matter how robust your contacts are in your home country, in Finland you are probably starting over.

Next, elevate your skills. Technology knows no boundaries, and Finnish companies, regardless of size, cater to global markets and you could be the asset they need. Finland is one of the most entrepreneur-friendly countries in the world and there are plenty of accelerators you can join that can help you to take your idea and turn it into a prototype or full-fledged product. Some programmes allow you to build your venture, and there are pro-bono training and mentorship programmes that job seekers can access.

I am excited to see how fast we, as a technically advanced nation, can embrace diversity in the workplace — the easiest and most obvious solution to the problem.

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