Finland’s skills shortage - and how to solve it

What’s your biggest obstacle to growth? Top organizations worldwide say a shortage of skilled workers has the most impact on innovation. The lack of skilled workers impacts countries as well as companies. According to a study by EK, Confederation of Finnish Industries, labour availability is the biggest obstacle to growth for companies in Finland 1

Skills shortages will have an impact on the future

The Finnish government believes economic development will deteriorate. The top reasons? A fast-ageing population, low immigration and declining availability. According to EK, younger generations can expect to pay more taxes to support welfare services in the future, and skills shortages will threaten organizational growth and GDP - making Finland less well-equipt to manage the next economic crisis compared to Sweden or Denmark. 

 

20%

less GDP per capita in Finland compared to Sweden and Denmark 1.

 

How can Finland secure long-term growth?

Technology is one of Finland’s biggest export markets, accounting for more than 50% of all Finnish exports - which helps to attract income to Finland. Minna Helle, deputy CEO of Technology Industries of Finland, believes “if we want to ensure economic growth, welfare services and high standards of living, our only option is to facilitate work-based migration in many different ways – and we must do it quickly.” 3  Attracting more digitally-talented workers is crucial, but for long-term success, Finland must also:

  • review the education system to better meet employer needs

  • convince those studying in Finland to stay and work after they’ve finished their studies

  • make the process for work-based permits easier

  • increase support for workplace diversity 

  • better help digital experts and their families settle in after they arrive in Finland

Can location-independent opportunities boost immediate growth?

The global acceptance of remote work has created a larger labour pool for digital jobs 4. A study by Harvard Business Review, which analyzed job postings on LinkedIn, found that “in February 2020, only 2.3% of U.S. paid job postings offered remote work, and those postings attracted 2.9% of all applications. By February 2022, 19.5% of U.S. paid job postings offered remote work and attracted 49.7% of applications”4. Breaking geographic barriers can unlock more opportunities for more people in rural areas of Finland, and outside of it - ultimately helping to fill immediate skills gaps.

Why Finland must look beyond its borders

Top companies are already looking beyond borders, with 87% of companies in Finland interested in recruiting international experts in the next four years 3. As well as offering better education and training for younger generations within Finland, it’s also necessary for Finland to use more foreign experts - whether through relocation or remote work - to support key export industries such as technology and digital services. 

 

1 The Confederation of Finnish Industries, EK

2 The Government's employment rate target requires an increase in the labour market participation, Finnish Government

3 Study: Finland’s technology industries will need 130,000 new experts within 10 years, Technology Finland

4 Who Gets to Work in the Digital Economy?, Harvard Business Review, 04 August 2022