Speaking to The Times, Vartiainen reiterated his thoughts and pointed out that “too many international employees do not yet feel at home in Helsinki.
The mayor’s first comments in an interview Helsingin sanomat newspaper received significant coverage here and international mediaSome party politicians are also wading in to express their own criticism of the idea. In particular, adviser to the Swedish People’s Party Björn Månsson, Director of the Helsinki Bilingual Committee, described the proposal as a threat to the constitutional rights of Swedish-speakers Interview with Hufvudstadsbladet.
In Vartiainen HS’s first comments, he described Finland’s efforts to attract much-needed, qualified foreign professionals as a “terrible failure” and added that politicians were too slow to understand how much skilled foreign labor Finland needed to remain competitive and support the economy. In Finland, the established language requirements for public sector employees require that they must be proficient in both Finnish and Swedish.
The mayor suggested that Helsinki could instead “call itself an English-speaking city” as a way to help reduce the stringent language requirements often imposed on foreign professionals, many of whom leave Finland because of these obstacles.
Commenting to The Times, Vartiainen clarified that the city could expand English-language school and day care services as a way to offer “a more attractive option for many foreigners and those already working here.” He also stressed that language requirements for local public sector jobs are still too inflexible to attract foreign talent.
“We currently use strict language requirements for the city’s own staff. Maybe we could make compromises there, especially in operations where there is really a shortage of manpower.”
However, Vartiainen also wanted to focus on the positive things and pointed out that it is useful to have an English-speaking professional in Helsinki, even if people are not aware of them.
“Many who may be considering working in Helsinki may not know that we have already achieved a lot in this regard,” he added. “It is entirely possible to succeed in Helsinki as an English-speaking entrepreneur or to work in many professions.”
After numerous recent stories, the mayor’s comments came from highly educated skilled foreigners who left Finland due to language difficulties, skills defects, high taxes and uncompetitive salaries.
Especially an American celebrity data scientist Deborah Berebichez, which arrived as part of Helsinki Business Hub ‘s highly publicized 90 – day Finnish programs, announced that it was leaving the system in August, saying that the system did not meet expectations. The purpose of the program was to raise Finland’s profile as a place to live and work for foreign professionals. However, Berebichez remains in Finland.
Almost 40% of foreigners who have graduated from Finnish educational institutions leave the country within a year of graduation, which is higher than in many other European countries. Many departments cite language barriers and challenge the job market as a reason. At the same time, it is estimated that 25 per cent of Helsinki’s population will have a mother tongue other than Finnish or Swedish by 2030, which is 14 per cent of the current level. At present, native English speakers are the fifth largest language group in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
In his resolution to HT, the mayor also wanted to emphasize why the need for less stringent language requirements is so acute in Finland right now.
“Now and especially in the future, we need to attract highly skilled international workers to Helsinki and Finland. We are an aging society with a shrinking working-age domestic population.”
“My vision and goal is to make Helsinki a more attractive option for international workers, and I want to strengthen our reputation as a city where highly educated English-speaking workers have a realistic opportunity to build a career.”
Adam Oliver Smith – HT
Source: The Nordic Page