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Finland's foreign worker share doubles in a decade

The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) wants work-based immigration to double by the end of the next parliamentary term.

Sahan työntekijä kävelee työtilassa.
Between 2010 and 2020 the share of foreign workers in the labour market nearly doubled in Finland. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle
Yle News

The share of people in Finland's workforce with immigrant backgrounds has almost doubled over the past ten years, according to a recent report by the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (Etla),

The share of workers with foreign background in all employed in Finland was 7.5 percent in 2020, compared to less than four percent in 2010.

In 2020, the largest numbers of immigrants worked in the service and retail sector and as experts in other fields, the business lobby-backed research institute's report said.

Around 38,000 people with immigrant backgrounds were employed in services and sales and about 32,000 worked in professional positions in 2020.

While immigrants are making up a larger share of the workforce, immigration does not cause broader increased unemployment in Finland, as is often claimed, Etla's CEO Aki Kangasharju noted.

"The idea that the increased supply of work caused by immigration would increase unemployment is partly based on the incorrect assumption that the number of jobs in our economy is constant. In fact, immigration and increased availability of labour will likely lead to more investments and cause companies to expand their operations," Kangasharju explained.

EK wants immigration doubled

While the share of foreign labour in the Finnish workforce doubled in the past decade, some suggest this pace of growth is not enough.

According to the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) lobby group, the next government must first agree on major measures to facilitate and speed up labour migration.

During the next parliamentary term, the group suggested that the number of work-based immigrants should be doubled to 40,000 per year.

At the same time, the number of new international students must be tripled to 15,000 per year according to the confederation.

In this scenario, EK said 75 percent should find employment in Finland after graduation. Combining this with other work-based immigration would mean more than 50,000 new workers a year in Finland, according to the group.

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