Opinion

International talent boosts growth for companies (and Finland)

Satu Salonen

Talent Manager, Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce

15.09.2021

In recent years, there has been a lot of public discussion regarding the shortage of skilled talent in Finland. Even though the global pandemic has turned attention to other urgent matters over the past year, the question of how to secure the availability of talent is not going to disappear or lose its relevance in the near future.

As the Finnish population is ageing and the birth rate is low, the question of where and how to find talent remains most pressing. In fact, it is estimated that Finland will need 20 000 work-related immigrants a year to fill the labour shortage.

Thankfully, many Finnish companies are already turning their attention abroad. International talent attraction campaigns and initiatives are taking place, highlighting the perks of Finland and the Finnish way of life. And rightfully so. A safe society, work-life balance, high-quality education, closeness to nature and gender equality are among the things in Finland’s favour, making it attractive for talent around the world. However, as the need for attracting international talent to Finland increases, many of the processes related to work-related immigration are in desperate need of improvement and streamlining. Luckily, the government-led Talent Boost initiative and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment have set reforming work-related residence permit process, alongside making Finnish working life more inclusive and open to diversity, as one of their main priorities.

Young people sitting on top of a roof in Helsinki City Centre

International talent attraction campaigns and initiatives are highlighting the benefits of living and working in Finland, including its safety, quality education and work-life balance. Image: City of Helsinki

In addition to attracting talent from abroad, it is also good to keep in mind the talent pool already in Finland. For example, Finnish higher education institutions have over 20 000 international degree students, of whom around 3 000–4 000 graduate each year. Many of them would like to stay in Finland after graduation and find a job matching their qualifications. Most of them already have a settled life in Finland and are motivated to stay. We are losing a great deal of potential with each leaving international graduate. It is to the benefit of Finland and Finnish companies to get these professionals to stay.

It is estimated that Finland will need 20 000 work-related immigrants a year to fill the labour shortage.

In addition to being one solution to the talent shortage, international talent can bring other positive effects to the organisations they work for. International research shows that diverse teams are more innovative and productive than homogenous teams. Although measuring a direct correlation between the number of international employees and an increase in business revenue is almost impossible, having people with different backgrounds is a richness that can provide an extra boost to both business and the organisation’s culture. For example, the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce’s member companies report that having international talent has resulted in improved language skills, increased customer satisfaction, wider contact networks and improved market knowledge. Having employees with different cultural and educational backgrounds brings new perspectives and viewpoints to operations and products. It is also a lot easier to enter new markets when you have someone on your team who is familiar with the target market and with the ways of doing business there.

A father with a baby stroller and a toddler

Finland’s generous parental leave, work-life balance and proximity to nature make it a favourable location for highly-skilled international talents. Image: City of Helsinki

Talent attracts talent, and investments go where the talent is. This is something that should not be underestimated. In order to keep Finland competitive in the global world, we need the best talent there is.

Article was originally published in January 2021. Updated in September 2021.

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