Ranking number one in the list of Happiest Countries in the World for four times in a row now, all is still not well in Finland. As per news agency AFP, the Nordic country is facing an acute workforce shortage. Confirming the workforce shortage, recruiter Saku Tihverainen from agency Talented Solutions told AFP, “It’s now widely acknowledged that we need a spectacular number of people to come to the country.” He added that workers are needed in order to “to help cover the cost of the greying generation”.
According to the United Nations, with 39.2 over-65s per 100 working-age people, Finland is second only to Japan in the extent of its ageing population. The UN also predicts that by 2030 the “old age dependency ratio” will rise to 47.5. Finland, which has a current population of 5.5 million, has to double immigration levels to 20,000-30,000 a year to maintain public services, its government has warned.
So what’s the problem then?
Finland faces anti-immigrant sentiment and a reluctance to employ outsiders. Charles Mathies, a research fellow at the Academy of Finland, is a part of the government’s “Talent Boost” programme, now in its fourth year, which aims to make the country more attractive internationally. He told the news agency that their main target for employing workforce includes health workers from Spain, metalworkers from Slovakia, and IT and maritime experts from Russia, India and Southeast Asia.
For foreigners, extensive reluctance to recognise overseas experience or qualifications, as well as prejudice against non-Finnish applicants, are some of the complaints they have with the country. Meanwhile, Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori is hopeful about Finland’s ability to attract talent from Asia in future, and believes people’s priorities will have changed post coronavirus pandemic.