How is it possible that the world’s happiest country is suffering from a severe labor crunch? Here are some facts: the number of over-65-year-olds per 100 working-age people will rise from 39.2% to 47.3% in 2030; to plug its pensions deficit, Finland needs to double the level of migrants to 20,000-30,000 annually.
In Europe’s most homogenous country – by historical choice – other factors don’t attract skilled labor and talent to Finland.
One has only to read the country’s biggest daily, Helsingin Sanomat, and the media in general to see their value priorities.
One of these is certainly not social equality, fairness, and equity of all people living in Finland.
France 24 pinpoints it to the tee: “But anti-immigrant sentiment and a reluctance to employ outsiders are also widespread in Western Europe’s most homogenous society, and the opposition far-right Finns Party (Perussuomalaiset*) regularly draws substantial support during elections.”
To add to the latter’s problem, it appears that the Finnish state is challenging head-on labor discrimination and racism in society. Due justice takes years in racism cases to resolve, and few politicians are ready to speak out against such social ills.
White fragility is one factor that stunts meaningful debate about the issue.
A Reform Migri panel discussion raised several important points on reforming the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). Game designer Peter Vesterbacka said that immigration policy and start-up goals are left to chance.
“This is the finger-pointing I was referring to: it’s the foreign ministry, it’s Migri, it’s TE-keskus [Employment Office],” he said. “And then if I ask what is the goal, how many start-ups do we want to attract a year to Finland, and who is in charge of that does anyone know or have the answer because I don’t know.”
Vesterbacka adds: “If you don’t know who is in charge, guess what, nobody is in charge.”
Ahmed, who commutes weekly from Helsinki to Dusseldorf, stated the following: “There was never a shortage of jobs going, just a shortage of mindset.”
While I am optimistic that matters will change for the better in Finland, I am confident that there is a lot of resistance to make the country more inclusive to everyone irrespective of their background.