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Helsinki vows to improve services in English

English speakers constitute the fifth-largest foreign language group in the capital.

Raitiovaunuliikennettä Hakaniemessä.
Helsinki is set to improve services in English. Image: Ilmari Herranen / AOP

Helsinki city council says it wants to make life easier for residents and businesses who want services in English. On Wednesday it announced its plan to develop its English-language services, a move the city hopes will help it stay attractive to skilled international talent and remain competitive.

The capital follows Espoo, which in 2017 announced plans to step up services in English, in moving to make life easier for international residents.

At present English speakers constitute the fifth-largest foreign language group in the city, according to Helsinki's figures. The municipality says it also hopes to make life easier for language and culture minorities in the city.

In the document published on Wednesday Helsinki vows to make its English-language communications more efficient and user-friendly, offer better education opportunities in English and provide more official documentation in English, among other proposed measures.

Quarter of Helsinki to be foreigners by 2035

The city's development agenda says that there are more than 6,700 English speakers residing in Helsinki at present, making English the fifth most spoken foreign language in the city.

English speakers make up 6.6 percent of Helsinki's foreign language-speaking population, who in turn represent 15.7 percent of all Helsinki residents.

The city estimates that Helsinki's foreign-language population will grow by almost 100,000 people by 2035, which would bring the share of this demographic to 25 percent of the total.

Language training for staff

Helsinki says it will work to improve English skills among its staff, and do better at providing information in English about early years education and schools.

Helsinki also vows to streamline student admissions to English and bilingual training, and says it will continue lobbying the government to make matriculation exams available in English.

Helsinki says free English-language counselling for people looking for work will also continue to be offered without appointments at the city's Employment Corner. The full report is available online at the municipality's website.

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