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Monday's papers: Foreigners transform job market, more domestic violence shelters and giant panda caregivers wanted

Finland's press on Monday looks into a response to rising domestic violence, the amount of foreigners in certain lines of work, and an advert from the Ähtäri Zoo as they look to recruit trainers for giant pandas.

Pandat jotka mahdollisesti tulevat Suomeen asumaan.
Do you have what it takes to care for pandas? Image: Bi Feng Xia Panda Base / Ähtäri Zoo

The Jyväskylä newspaper Keskisuomalainen starts off the week with good news from the Uutissuomalainen syndicate: Finland is founding more shelters for people fleeing domestic violence or the threat of it. Last year 1,198 individuals in need were turned away due to a lack of space, approximately the same amount denied safe accommodation in 2015.

Helena Ewalds of the National Institute for Health and Welfare says the need for new shelters is most acute in the regions of Central Uusimaa, Kanta-Häme, and Southern Ostrobothnia. She tells the paper that remote units have been established in sparsely populated areas far from urban centres.

How many new centres will be established depends on the number of willing operators applying to start a new shelter--and the government. Parliament has yet to approve the cabinet's four-million-euro increase in funding for this purpose in next year's budget.

This year the state granted an additional two million euros, which has made it possible to start up three new shelters and one remote location. If the remote sites are included, Finland currently has 23 homes and shelters.

Riitta Särkelä of the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters says the addition of four new locations is still not enough to guarantee that everyone fleeing domestic violence or insecure situations will be taken in.

"This year we have already had to say no to 182 people in the capital city area and 83 in Tampere."

Helsinki shelter social worker Minna Remes-Sievänen tells the paper that among the European countries, Finland still has one of the highest incidences of family and domestic violence. Last year there was a 16 percent increase in people who turned to the shelters for help.

Foreigners outnumbering Finns in certain vocations

The capital city's leading daily Helsingin Sanomat continues this Monday with a long article on how foreigners are changing the work scene. The paper explains that the for the purposes of their story, both of a worker's parents should be born abroad to count as someone with a "foreign background". The paper explains that not all people in Finland with foreign backgrounds are immigrants.

The paper says foreigners now outnumber Finns in many Helsinki companies. A quick round of calls to companies employing bus drivers and cleaners, for example, confirms this. 

SOL is a company providing cleaning and security services. One-third of their 8,500 employees have a foreign background. This number jumps to half in the capital city area. CEO Juhapekka Joronen says Finland needs the manpower.

"I don't know how our metropolitan buses would get around, or things would get clean or the mail would be delivered without them. How would our society function without people coming here in search of work?" he asks. 

More service in English

Another changing aspect of life in Helsinki and its surroundings is the increasing use of English in coffee shops, restaurants and retail stores. Villa Relander from the Sandro chain of restaurants tells HS that half of his restaurants' employees have an immigrant background. He says the international feel is one of his eating establishments' biggest draws.

"We rarely get any feedback about our English-language service. We try to compile our work lists so there is always at least one Finnish-speaking worker on shift. I don't see the language issue as a problem. Our diverse cultural background has on the contrary allowed us to grow," he tells HS.

Foreigners have found work in other areas outside the transport and hospitality industries too, the paper writes. Statistics Finland figures from 2014 show that foreigners work in virtually all the same fields as Finns. There are almost as many foreign-born directors, specialists, and construction workers, for example, as Finnish-born. Foreign business owners provide the most jobs in the service and sales sectors.

Immigration director Sonja Hämäläinen of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy says that foreigners are slowly getting their foot in the door in almost every vocation Finland has to offer.

"The general feeling is that it's becoming a part of our modern world. There's no doubt that there will still be discrimination, but it looks as if attitudes are changing for the better," she says.

Wanted: Panda trainers

And the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat finishes off our paper review today with news of a great job opportunity for anyone willing to relocate to western Finland. The Ähtäri Zoo is now recruiting animal trainers for its new Giant Panda facility that is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. IS says that people that may be interested should act quickly, however, as the application period ends on August 18.

The Zoo is looking for panda caregivers with a decent command of Finnish and English that are suited to "challenging and independent work".  Prospective employees would be primarily responsible for the giant panda's care and other zoo upkeep responsibilities. Applicants with extensive experience tending to animals will receive preference.

The job will include an initial six-month orientation to learn the basics of giant panda care, medical treatment, animal husbandry and conservation. Some of the training will take place in China.

Zoo personnel recently visited China to specify the goals of the Giant Panda project, agreed upon during President Xi's visit to Finland on 5 April 2017. Several potential panda individuals were also selected and preparatory measures and details of the pandas' transportation to Finland at the end of the year were discussed. 

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