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Finland mulls expediting work permits for big employers

In the future some employers in Finland may be able to fast track residence permits for foreign workers.

Employment officials say Finland needs more coders. Image: Ronnie Holmberg / Yle

In the face of declining birthrates and an ageing population, the Employment Ministry said it is taking measures to ease work-based immigration.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has suggested fast tracking work permits for foreign workers recruited by large companies.

"One option is accrediting employers that are trustworthy, stable and large. Ones we know follow rules and abide by labour agreements. These employers could have their own channel for permits," Employment Minister Tuula Haatainen suggested.

This scenario would mean workers with clean criminal records would almost be guaranteed a residence permit if securing a contract with a company that has the state’s seal of approval.

"Our companies have a shortage of specialised workers in different professional groups and there’s no quick way to fill these positions, Haatainen said.

Finnish rules currently state that open positions should be filled wherever possible by EU or EEA citizens, and only if that isn’t possible can a work permit be granted for someone from outside those countries.

Coders, welders and nurses

Finland's employment offices, known as TE centres, have said the country especially needs people to work in the coding industry, metalworking and maritime fields as well as in tourism. Finland’s healthcare sector also has numerous job openings.

In 2019, Finland granted the most work-based residence permits to Ukrainians (2,170), followed by Indians (1,423) and Russians (1,133).

Estonians (972) meanwhile made up the highest proportion of EU nationals moving to Finland for jobs last year.