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Tuesday's papers: Swedish teacher recruitment, Onnibus savings and gay of the year row

There's a mixed bag of stories in the newspapers on Tuesday, with a new wave of highly-educated migrants heading to Sweden, a typically thrifty move from a low-cost bus company, and a noisy kerfuffle over a young winner of Finland's 'gay of the year' prize.

Newspapers, lehdet, sanomalehti
Image: Yle

Finland has always been a source of workers for Sweden. In the 60s and 70s they crossed the Gulf of Bothnia to make Saabs and Volvos, in the 80s and 90s to work for high tech firms like Ericsson, and in the 2000s startups have utilised Finnish talent.

Helsingin Sanomat reports on Tuesday about a relatively new form of Finnish migration: teachers leaving Finland to work in Sweden. The paper went to meet Jutta Turunen, a teacher from Lahti who has just moved to Eskilstuna, and is very excited about the switch. She says that students are more outgoing and talkative, staff are friendly and welcoming and--most importantly--she has a long contract and the prospect of stable employment long into the future.

That's a different story to Finland, reports HS, where teachers are often forced to work on short-term contracts of six months or even less. Securing a permanent position is difficult, and so when an 18 month contract was on offer, Turunen snapped it up. Moving to Sweden wasn't too much of a wrench for the 27-year-old, who has relatives in the country.

Other Swedish municipalities are also actively recruiting in Finland, with Malmö, Örebro and Haparanda among those travelling to Finnish cities for recruitment events. When Eskilstuna came to Turku the municipality received some 30 applications, hiring two of those teachers with four more on the way. According to the head of HR at the municipality, they want to hire as many teachers as possible to cover growing needs.

Finnish teachers fit the bill. They're well-qualified, come from a very similar culture, and have already learnt a high level of Swedish. The Finnish teachers union, however, isn't too happy about its members leaving the country. HS quotes union chair Olli Luukkainen as saying that "it's really odd that Finland would train teachers with public funds to meet the needs of Sweden. Finland can't really affect the situation too much, because we have so many spare teachers out of work."

Onnibus cuts costs, won't raise prices

Budget bus firm Onnibus hit the headlines this week with the announcement that it is entering lay-off talks. The co-determination negotiations will look at whether the firm could shrink its route network or lay off staff to improve profitability.

Its rapid growth has shaken up the Finnish bus market, offering an alternative to the nationalised rail and highly-regulated long-distance bus companies, but one option is--according to a report in Aamulehti on Tuesday--off the table: Onnibus says it will not put up prices to try and increase revenue.

The paper reports that bus travel in Finland is a low-margin business, and there's no room to increase costs for customers. Onnibus says that passenger numbers are good and growth continues, but that it's looking at restructuring to remove unprofitable services. Finnish bus travellers, however, can continue to enjoy the cheap tickets they've come to expect.

Gay of the Year

Last week video blogging star Tuure Boelius was named Finland's 'Gay of the Year'. He has a large following online, with 95,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, and has talked extensively about being gay.

The decision by the judges brought more publicity than usual, however, as Boelius is 16-years-old. Finland's social conservatives were upset and angry about the prize, and Finns Party MP Jari Ronkkainen has this week blasted the decision--particularly because the award was presented by the bishop of Helsinki, Irja Askola, and because he felt it "sexualised" a child.

His outburst has been roundly condemned by the children's ombudsman, who tweeted: "Adults. Children have the right to be themselves. To be, to question, to wonder. Support them. And give them space to grow." On Tuesday Iltalehti reports the view of leftist researcher Sandra Hagman that Ronkkainen should look in the mirror before criticising others.

"Those who see something perverted have reason to consider their own perversion. Period," said Hagman.

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