The plans alone have undermined the country’s reputation among the skilled workforce more than the media would suggest, he believes.
The government program states, for example, that work-based immigrants must leave the country if they cannot find a new job within three months of the end of their previous employment. Likewise, the language and residence requirements for a permanent work permit will be increased, the latter from four to six years.
At Aalto University, the three-month re-employment requirement has caused the most concern. More than half of the university’s staff is from outside Finland.
The startup community and software developers have also highlighted the criticism.
– In expert work, it can easily happen that the company adjusts its operations slightly or stops part of its operations. Even if there is a need for expertise, it can be almost impossible to find a new job in three months with the documents signed, because the recruitment processes are thorough and long-lasting, Niemelä said.
He said that Finland has previously been considered a stable and predictable society that values merit and treats people from different parts of the world equally. The announcement of the government program and the discussion of racism have reversed the impression – so much so that there are concerns about outright hostility towards immigrants and the country’s desire to get rid of even international experts.
“It is a message that is transmitted abroad through the networks,” he said.
According to Niemelä, the message has an even greater impact on the country’s appeal and reputation than the racist comments of ministers in the international media. The importance of networks is emphasized because many people look for information and experiences through their acquaintances and social media contacts before deciding on building a career in Finland.
“There is widespread concern in our society about the direction of Finland. When they are asked if Finland is a good place for work, study or a research career, they are quite cautious about the recommendation, he reveals.
The uncertainty also stems from the fact that many do not know how big the decisions are and when they could be enacted into law.
“Many are asking if the three-month rule is already in effect and what it means for them. Or if they should already start thinking about whether they will graduate, whether they should look for work abroad rather than in Finland, Niemelä reflects.
The inability to attract talents to work and study, he warned, weakens not only research activities but also national competitiveness.
“Our industrial structure is such that economic growth is based on labor productivity growth, which arises almost exclusively from new technologies, innovations and human capital or know-how,” he reminded.
One obstacle to growth is weak demographic development.
“We need international experts if we try to create new innovations and sustainable growth in Finland. It is not possible without international networks and experts,” said Niemelä. “If decisions are made now that harm international recruitment, it will also be difficult to solve the lack of sustainability.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: The Nordic Page