A pilot programme to introduce asylum seekers to the Finnish labour market is being expanded nationally. The job familiarisation scheme, known in Finland as TET, was launched in late 2015 in south-western Finland. The pilot has worked so well that the Finnish Red Cross (FRC) is looking for new partners around Finland.
"Asylum seekers feel that they have received an excellent opportunity to find out about Finnish working culture and people and to learn the Finnish language," says Pauli Heikkinen, Executive Director of the SPR's Southwest District.
The SPR says it has received positive feedback from companies about the asylum seekers' internships, which they say have enriched their working communities and helped to dispel prejudices.
Plenty of skills, training, and desire
So far about 400 asylum seekers have taken part in the SPR's unpaid TET job traineeships. These introductions to Finnish working life have taken place in many fields, from education and research to construction, media, restaurants, shops, customer service and property maintenance.
Most middle school students in Finland do similar unpaid TET internships, which they arrange themselves.
TET internships, which last 1-3 weeks, allow participants to form contacts at companies and other organisations. Meanwhile the work placements reveal much about the asylum seekers' know-how, training and areas of interest.
The SPR says the scheme has demonstrated that the participants have plenty of skills, training, and desire to work in Finland. Outside of this programme, though, their know-how is not gauged quickly enough, or at all, says the NGO.
Last year, more than 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland. Of these at least a third are expected to remain in the country.