Minna Helle, pystykuva

Immigrants – we need you!

Minna Helle

We shared some wild numbers recently. The technology industry will need 130,000 new skilled employees over the next ten years. The figure is high, especially when you compare it to the current number of employees in the sector, which is 317,000. As much as half of the number of new employees is growth, while the other half is needed in order to replace people who retire. 

There are many positive aspects related to the challenge concerning skilled employees. It reveals that technology companies believe in growth opportunities. Undeniably, the situation is juicy. For Finland, the value of the export market for green technology alone could be as high as 30 billion euros. Such export revenues would provide much-needed help for financing well-being in Finland and for boosting long-needed growth of employment.

Then the bad news. We simply do not have so many experts available in Finland. In recent years, the Finnish labour market has shrunk by 10,000 persons on an annual basis, and this will continue as the population ages. In addition, the technology industry is not the only sector that needs more skilled employees. As much as 80 percent of all companies report labour shortages. In addition, the public sector is suffering, among other things, a chronic shortage of health care professionals.

The shortage of experts therefore threatens to wreck the technology industry’s growth, which already got off to a good start. Without experts, there are no innovations or new export products. As the shortage of experts continues, it will undermine the future economic growth that would be needed to maintain the welfare state. 

There is no single cure for skills shortages. We need more targeted training and better regional cooperation between companies, educational institutions and employment authorities. This, however, is not enough. One thing is certain: we cannot do without work migration. The population of Finland is aging at such a rapid rate that without immigration we may gradually just fade away.

All decision-makers and every Finn should understand that our standard of living cannot be maintained by a dwindling workforce. Among other things, there are problems in the financing of the earnings-related pension system when there are less and less payers. If action is not taken in good time, young people will suffer the most, as they will be burdened with the mounting public debt.

For this reason, we should welcome foreign experts. The processes of work migration must be made digital, fast and smooth. Immigrants should also feel welcome – both in the workplace and as members of our community. If not, why would they want to stay here? It is the responsibility of all of us to understand this and take action.

Technology companies understand the importance of attitude change. As many as 87 percent of companies in the industry are interested in hiring experts from abroad. Diversity-related skills are becoming increasingly important in terms of the people that the industry needs, as an increasing number of the workplaces are multicultural work communities. There may be, for example, 59 different nationalities in one workplace.

Further information:

Minna Helle, Deputy CEO, tel. +358 (0)50 341 4884, minna.helle@teknologiateollisuus.fi, twitter: @MinnaHelle