Study: Finland’s technology industries will need 130,000 new experts within 10 years – The skills shortage in ageing Finland threatens to devastate digi-green economic growth
Finland’s technology industries employ 317,000 people, so 130,000 new experts is an ambitious target. If the sector does not reach this goal, the sustainable economic growth enabled by the digi-green transformation of Finnish industry will not take place. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that technology industries are far from the only employers looking for new experts and that not enough people are being trained in educational institutions.
According to a recent study by Technology Industries of Finland on the need for skills, as many as 87 per cent of companies are interested in recruiting international experts in the next four years. Up to 95 per cent of respondents in the metal processing and information technology sectors are considering international recruitment.
“The unavoidable fact is that the ageing population and low birth rate will cause the working-age population to decrease substantially in the coming years, and there will not be enough workers in every sector. Finland’s export industry would now be in an excellent position in the global digi-green market. 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,” says Deputy CEO Minna Helle.
Half of the new experts sought by the technology industries will be needed as a result of the expected growth in the sector, and the rest will be needed to replace retiring experts. At the same time, there has been a rapid increase in the demand for highly skilled employees: 60 per cent of the personnel recruited in the technology industries are expected to hold a university degree or have equivalent expertise. There is also a significant annual shortfall of 1,500 professionals.
“At the moment, the education system is not meeting this major requirement, so we need several different solutions to overcome this challenge. Increasing the number of places for new university degree students is a good start, but the resources and quality of education must be improved. We need to ensure that students finish their educations and that our international students remain in Finland,” says Leena Pöntynen, Director, Skills and Competence.
One avenue for addressing the skills shortage is partnerships between companies, educational institutions and the labour administration and continuous learning services. In addition to making the permit processes for work-based migration more flexible, better efforts must be made to attract experts and their families to Finland and their new home towns. At present, the educated spouses of newly arrived experts have trouble finding work in Finland, and it is difficult for families and children to receive services in English.
A change in working cultures and attitudes is also essential.
“Immigrants and their families need to feel welcome as members of the community. The study of skills needs highlighted competencies related to communality and diversity, as people are increasingly working in multicultural communities. We must take the right action now because workplaces need more diversity. Managers must take these and other needs into account,” Helle says.
Companies calling out for hundreds of different skills
The study indicates that the most important skills businesses in the sector will need in the coming years are in the fields of continuous learning, digitalisation, low-carbon development, the circular economy, customer orientation, and management. Sustainable value creation and corporate responsibility skills are on the rise. However, companies need people in dozens of competence areas with hundreds of related skillsets.
The importance of digitalisation is exemplified by recruitment adverts: digitalisation is among the top skills required in every main sector of Finland’s technology industries. Companies are suffering from skills shortages in areas such as the utilisation of data and digitalisation. In the theses, final-year projects, and research publications examined during the study, digitalisation was found to be inextricably linked to strategies, as well as business, technology, and process development.
“Customer orientation and understanding customers’ needs came to the fore in connection with many competence requirements, while an ability to manage complex entities and form a comprehensive business understanding are expanding areas. Multiple skills are required in management, planning and production,” says Touko Apajalahti, an expert.
In the study, companies took into consideration the increasing importance of environmental requirements. Customer needs and requirements guide business activities, and digitalisation skills are necessary for sustainable development.
The Osaamispulssi.fi website keeps track of required skills
The results of the study on skill requirements were compiled with the help of a survey of member companies, crowdsourcing, stakeholder dialogue, and extensive data analysis performed with artificial intelligence.
The artificial intelligence analysed public job adverts that member companies posted on the MOL.fi and Duunitori services over the last three years in each of the main sectors of Finnish industry, as well as theses and final-year projects in the Theseus database from students at universities of applied sciences, and applicable research publications in the open-access database. The analysis was carried out with Headai Oy’s technology, which extracts the skills mentioned in the textual material, their prevalences, and the connections between different skills.
The Osaamispulssi.fi website, which will be kept up to date, provides the latest information about the skills needed by Finland’s technology industries.
“The mapping of skills requirements, which will be updated using artificial intelligence, will open up tangible new opportunities to bring together education, jobs, and experts,” Leena Pöntynen says.
Minna Helle, Deputy CEO, tel. +358 50 3414 884, Twitter: @MinnaHelle
Leena Pöntynen, Director, Skills and Competence, tel. +358 40 1306 113, Twitter: @leenapontynen
Touko Apajalahti, Expert, Higher Education Policy, tel. +358 40 1605 006, Twitter: @ToukoApajalahti