Finland faces massive labour crunch, pitches for Indian tech workers and nurses

MEA signs a migration agreement with visiting Finland Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen

December 20, 2022 02:10 am | Updated December 22, 2022 08:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Finland’s Employment Minister Tuula Haatainen.

Finland’s Employment Minister Tuula Haatainen. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Facing a massive skilled labour shortage, Finland’s government is planning to double the number of work immigrants entering the country and triple international student placements by 2030, said the Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs and Employment, Tuula Haatainen during a visit to India aimed at pitching the country as a work destination for Indians. In particular, Ms. Haatainen, who signed a “joint declaration of intent on Migration and Mobility” with Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, said that Finland hopes to attract workers in the technology and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors as well as nurses from India. However, the Minister said that while her government hopes to smooth the path for work migrants, a path to citizenship may not be on offer as yet.

“We see that India has such a pool of professional talent that we need in Finland. We need more workforce, we need talent, we need professionals, skilled people. If they want to enter to Finland, I see that it is valuable for both sides, that people go abroad, and also earn and learn something there,” Ms. Haatainen told The Hindu.

The joint declaration of intent was signed last week “to facilitate mobility of students, academics, researchers, business people & professionals and to combat irregular migration,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. India has recently signed similar agreements with Germany this year and the United Kingdom (U.K.) last year.

The interest in Indian skilled manpower comes on the back of a massive labour crunch across Europe as businesses recover from COVID losses and the border lockdowns enforced in the past two years. Finland in particular, is a country of about 5.5 million people, with only about 2.5 million in the workforce, and an increasing rate of retirement.

A survey by Finland’s Employment Ministry in March, as well as industry surveys, showed that more than 70% of companies in Finland are now hampered by a shortage of skilled labour. Ms. Haateinen said that in addition, her government wants to invest about 4% of its GDP in the Research and Development (R&D) sector, but needs more trained employees for that. As a result, Finland is offering to facilitate work migrants along with families, offering daycare, education, and healthcare as well as undertaking half the cost of teaching them the local language.

“One area where we need professionals, other than technology and ICT is the healthcare sector. We understand that in India, there are very highly qualified nurses who would be willing to come to work in Finland. We lack people also in the service sector particularly in tourism, hostels, and restaurants as well,” the Minister said, adding that Finland has broadened its search in the region.

According to a Ministry report that published an “occupation barometer” earlier this year, the top five occupations seeing shortages are all in the healthcare sector, including nurses, social work and counselling staff, general practitioners, and senior physicians. Finland, whose Prime Minister Sanna Marin was one of the youngest heads of government worldwide at 34, is, in particular, seeking a gender balance in migrants.

“We have 1,500 students and 15,000 diaspora from India in Finland at present. And the government has decided that all together from anywhere, we are going to double the number of work-related immigration until 2030. And triple the number of foreign students,” Ms. Haateinen said.

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