Survey: 40% of foreign specialists face discrimination in Finnish workplaces | New


About two in five foreign skilled workers have experienced discrimination in a Finnish workplace, according to the results of a recent survey by the non-profit group E2 Research.

A similar proportion of survey respondents said they were considering leaving Finland in the near future, while 20% said they had not adjusted to Finnish society.

Difficulties learning and using the Finnish language, lack of Finnish friends and inability to find gainful employment are some of the examples cited by respondents as to why they found it difficult to adapt. .

A “skilled foreign worker” was defined in the survey as a foreign national with a university degree or equivalent skill level.

The poll also found that almost 80% of respondents said they had adjusted “well” or “fairly well” to life in Finland, with around half saying it took them less than a year to settle. ‘adapt.

When compiling the data results, E2 Research interviewed approximately 750 foreigners living in Finland. Most of the respondents are highly educated and three out of four of them have a job in Finland.

Help from employers

Indian national Ankita Shanbhag moved to Finland in 2016 after her husband received a job offer. At first she cared for the couple’s young daughter at home, but then started looking for a job in 2019.

After nearly three years of searching, Shanbhag finally found a job with Cimcorp, a manufacturer of automation systems for the tire industry, based in Ulvila in the Satakunta region. The couple’s daughter, now 8, also started school in the town of Pori.

Cimcorp currently has approximately 400 employees at the Ulvila plant, 10 of whom come from overseas. The company operates in global markets and its working language is English. It also aims to help employees coming to Finland with issues such as housing and work permits.

“Finland has a lot of appeal. It is safe, it has its own nature, a good school system and a lot of good things that we Finns don’t even think about. We should do more to highlight our strengths” , said the company’s global head. Human resources manager Riikka Mannelin Yle said.

Riikka Mannelin thinks Finland has a lot to offer to attract foreign talent. Image: Katja Halinen/Yle

Ankita Shanbhag echoed Mannelin’s sentiments on Finland’s strengths, citing the nature of the country as well as the honesty and straightforwardness of the people as its particularly favored aspects.

She added that Finland’s health care system, education system and daycare services are all excellent.

“It’s very important when you come to a country you don’t know anything about, you just know the name of, that you don’t get tricked, you just get help. It’s very important,” noted Shanbhag.

The language barrier hinders integration

The language barrier and the difficulties that newcomers to Finland have in learning Finnish are often cited as the main problems explaining why immigrants find it difficult to adapt to Finnish society and working life.

E2 Research Manager, City Pitkanentold Yle that the survey has clearly shown that Finnish society and companies need to continue on the path of greater internationalization.

“On the other hand, our research shows that Finnish language skills are quite important for integration. Internationalization and learning Finnish are both important from the perspective of foreign professionals,” Pitkänen said.

Meanwhile, Ankita Shanbhag said she prefers to speak English as much as possible, but uses Finnish when going to shops or to the doctor, for example.

She studied Finnish, mainly during a six-month intensive course.

“I found it very difficult to follow the labor market training courses, which are mainly in Finnish. When your language skills are not very common, it is difficult to learn anything when translation takes so much time,” Shanbhag said, adding she hopes more job-related courses can be taught in English.

Although around three-quarters of foreign professionals surveyed by E2 Research are employed, unemployment is also one of the main barriers to integration.

Discrimination is also a significant factor, especially when it comes to finding a job. Many of the 40% of respondents who said they had experienced discrimination at work said they had also experienced discrimination in job search before the interview, and almost half of them during the interview.

Ankita Shanbhag said she hoped a foreign name would not be a barrier to getting a job interview. Image: Katja Halinen/Yle

Shanbhag said she was also familiar with such situations, both from her own experiences and those of her friends.

Previous studies have shown that a candidate may not be interviewed simply because they have a foreign name.

“That’s wrong. Everyone should have the opportunity to be interviewed. In other words, being able to talk to people about their skills and experience and be treated on that basis in the selection process,” said Shanbag.

The family and the spouse play an important role in the integration

The survey results showed that people who moved to Finland because their spouse received a job offer should be considered separately from their spouses.

Their situation is often quite different from that of those who have moved for work, especially since they generally find it much more difficult to find their own job and to adapt to Finnish society.

Finding a job, in particular, is an important step in the process of integrating into a new culture as well as making friends and entering wider society, according to the E2 team’s research.

Principal Investigator Matti Välimäki (left) and Research Manager Ville Pitkänen (right) of E2 Research. Image: Lassi Lähteenmäki / Yle

Previous studies have highlighted the importance of investing in families, not just the individual worker, as the well-being of the spouse and the whole family is an important reason for staying in Finland more permanently. If the spouse and children do not enjoy their time in the country, the situation can become very difficult for the whole family.

“Companies and public bodies are already doing this stuff with spouses, helping them find jobs and build their networks. This is really important work,” E2’s Pitkänen concluded.

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