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What practical actions could be used to benefit from local knowledge, networks and knowhow of immigrants to improve growth, internationalization and exportation of Finnish companies?

Puhekupla 1
Keskustelu | Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos
Keskustelu on päättynyt

A good action suggestion answers the questions below. Of course it’s possible to suggest an idea, even if all answers are not known. Crude estimates are also allowed, but those need to be notified as such. Ideas will be synthesized in Opasnet web-workspace.

  • Content of the action: what will be done?
  • Which groups of immigrants will be targeted?
  • Who decides on the action and who will implement the action?
  • What schedule is feasible to implement the action?
  • How much does the implementation cost? Who will pay for it?
  • What benefits will the action produce for
    • different actors (companies, immigrants, national economy, customer etc.)
    • different objectives (financial, health, social, wellbeing etc.)
  • What research knowledge or reports are there available on implementation of the action or its effects?


Päättynyt: 22.5.2016


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Soft skills usage by subsidised social security contributions

Profiilikuvan paikka

Emilia Vantaalta
9. toukokuuta 2016 kello 5.44.04

A lot of Finnish business life revolves around implementing laws and policies in order simply to comply wih basic regulations. Here immigrants' business skills are obviously not very useful. I suggest focusing instead on tapping into the reserves of soft skills that immigrants may have acquired in their professional lives: salesmanship, being nice to clients, negotiation skills, conflict resolution, innovation, spotting and using opportunities, networking etc. Another opportunity is to hire a person from the country where the company wants to invest, make partnerships or export to, in order to gain valuable local knowledge and use their networks.
Finns are so used to the the rules (social and legal) being clear and the rules being obeyed that they are typically blind to the fact that things abroad actually work in a different way from "what it says on the tin". They are often handicapped by social stiffness, humourlessness and insecurity, lack of language skills, and stinginess and distrust. Here, an immigrant "guide" can be invaluable.

This is obviously best done by employing the immigrant in a Finnish enterprise. The problem is that Finnish employers are notoriously scared of the new, a situation exacerbated by the fact that labour laws make each recruitment a large financial investment (and risk). Companies could hence hire an immigrant on a consultancy (non-fixed term) basis, with the government chipping in for those scary social security costs - pension, maternity and parental pay, unemployment insurance etc. This would lower the risk for companies, and hopefully hence lower the threshold for them to take the leap and hire a non-Finnish speaker. The government would guarantee the labour rights of the immigrant and also save money compared to unemployment benefit, gain taxes, while also boosting integration, counteracting racism, supporting a vulnerable population and improving Finnish companies' competitiveness (this benefits all the residents of the country). One would hope that the company would then hire the immigrant on a proper contract after getting over their initial fright, and learning to work together. This could be built in to the scheme by gradually lowering the government's share of the social security costs, say by 10% a year, so that in year 2 the government covers 90%, in year 3 80% etc.
This scheme doesn't only need to be applied to "recent" immigrants, or to immigrants from poor countries - Finnish xenophobia punishes anyone who's not a Finnish-speaking, white Finn. People who have lived in Finland for a long time (while retaining a link to their country of origin) will have extra valuable skills, given that they understand both Finns and their original countrymen. The scheme would be open to any immigrant, since it would be up to companies to hire one and benefit from the government-subsidised social security costs.