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Women of foreign background an untapped labour resource, integration expert says

The head of Helsinki's Integration Centre Monika says the process of integrating newcomers to Finland should be more closely aligned with working life.

Opettaja näyttää taululta kellonaikoja ja oppilaat katsovat
According to the STTK labour union, about 40 percent of women of immigrant background living in Finland have university degrees. Image: Sari Veikkolainen / Yle
Yle News

In an interview with Yle on Tuesday, International Women's Day, the head of Helsinki's Integration Centre Monika called on authorities in Finland to help women of immigrant backgrounds access the labour market more easily and effectively.

"Not only where there is a shortage of workers, but towards what a woman's dreams are," Marisel Soto Godoy said, adding that the links between integration processes and working life need to be closer.

"Integration measures need to be smarter and more employment-oriented. Integration plans could be linked to jobs," she added.

According to the labour confederation STTK, about 40 percent of women with immigrant backgrounds living in Finland have university degrees, but only half of them are involved in working life.

Immigrant women are traditionally employed in female-dominated sectors, Soto Godoy pointed out, as they are being specifically directed to work in the social and healthcare sectors.

However, there are severe staff shortages in some sectors of the Finnish labour market, and Soto Godoy believes that women of immigrant backgrounds are the untapped resource that can fill these .gaps.

"We have experts - women! Immigrant women are on average more educated than native Finnish men. In other words, we have experts, their expertise just needs to be utilised," she said.

A report published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in 2020 revealed that Finland has not performed as well as its Nordic neighbours in terms of getting immigrant women into the workforce.

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