I never thought that a few posts trying to look at such an issue like discrimination in Finland could inflame debate. If anything, it shows that there is a problem in this area. I have lived long enough in Finland and studied its culture since a child to know the challenges facing this country.
If Finland is to overcome this challenge and wants to put into force a dynamic immigration/integration policy, I believe it will have to look elsewhere.
A good source are the Finns that have immigrated abroad. They can give insightful information to authorities on what matters need to work in a society for the country to reap the benefits from its new inhabitants.
Unfortunately, Finland’s immigration policy in the past has been guided essentially by one factor: how do we hinder people from coming to the country. This, of course, changed when Finland became a EU member in 1995. Things are changing but I am not holding my breath until I start to see changes.
Where should the changes come? Employment, employment and employment. It is disgraceful for a country like Finland to have on average 20% unemployment among foreigners and over 50% among some national groups. How are these people supposed to “integrate” if they cannot even get work? If the country cannot employ these people, why even bother bringing them here? Even unemployment figures for the whole country (about 7%) leave a lot to be desired and reveal a wider problem.
Certainly some may claim that high unemployment among foreigners may be these people’s fault. Yes, there may be some truth in that, but a 20% jobless figure reveals a big problem. It is easier to pay unemployment/social welfare than to confront the issue and grab it by the horns. One of the biggest challenges in this area is job discrimination.
There are some parties such as the Swedish Folk Party that want to change the situation. It is never too late to start.
I once asked a long time ago a former Social Democrat MP why that person was not more outspoken on racism. The person’s response was quite incredible: “I am afraid about a public backlash.” The fear of anti-foreign sentiment was so strong at the time that the politician thought it was better to leave the issue alone.
That kind of leadership reveals why change has been slow in Finland.
But we should ask ourselves a simple question: Why do we want change and why should public officials be more outspoken against discrimination?
The answer is simple: If we allow discrimination to get the upper hand of things, then the biggest loser will be Finland.