The results suggest that the public’s views on work-related immigration have weakened significantly in recent years, as just five years ago more than two-thirds (67%) of respondents agreed.
Sakari NurmelaKantar Public’s director of research, cautioned against drawing far-reaching conclusions from the latest results, partly because the method has changed from telephone to online.
Answers to some other survey questions, he added, also show that public opposition to labor immigration is not quite as widespread. For example, 68 percent of the respondents stated that they agree with the statement that foreign labor should be brought to all sectors in Finland.
Lena NäreThe professor of sociology who studies immigration at the University of Helsinki emphasized that the research was carried out in a clearly different security policy situation than in 2017.
“Recently, the immigration debate has been unusually connected to security policy. There has been talk of a hybrid effect and, for example, a fence is being planned for the eastern border,” he said. – I would assume that under these circumstances, when people read the statement, many of them will think that of course not everyone should be allowed here.
He estimated the public’s willingness to receive foreign labor to be surprisingly high in light of some other questions related to the survey. While 71 percent of respondents thought immigration was necessary but stressed that skilled labor should be emphasized, the proportion who felt that foreign labor should be injected into all sectors was only a few percentage points lower.
“When you think about how politicized and divisive immigration is among the population, I think these are quite high percentages,” Näre said.
The results may have also been swayed by the recent public debate about the nursing shortage. “This reflects the understanding that our domestic workforce is not enough.”
Näre estimates that the results also reflect the nature of the immigration debate in Finland. Politicians tend to treat humanitarian and labor immigration as strictly separate issues, creating the same somewhat misleading divide among the public.
“Many who were initially denied asylum have later received a work permit here,” he reminded.
Helsingin Sanomat also asked respondents to measure the extent of racism in Finland. Well over half (57%) of the respondents considered that there is a lot or quite a lot of racism in the country, which means a drop of 10 percentage points compared to 2017.
Finns may have been more aware of racism five years ago, Näre analysed.
“European [Union’s] The Agency for Fundamental Rights had just published its report, which revealed that Finns experience the most discrimination in Europe, he said. “If you haven’t personally experienced or don’t know people who have experienced racism, or if you’re not interested in the matter, it can be difficult to assess the extent of racism in Finland.”
In any case, more than half of the public estimates that there is a lot or quite a lot of racism in Finland. “It corresponds to reality,” Näre looked.
A total of 1,096 people responded to Kantar Public’s online survey.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: The Nordic Page