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Young Finns readily relocate for work – unlike Italian counterparts

Working Finns under 35 have one of the EU’s highest rates of mobility within their home country. And many would rather work outside the EU than in it.

Nuoret naiset tekevät töitä tietokoneella.
Young Finns have a low threshold for moving in search of work. Image: Yle / Jani Ilola

Some companies in Finland say they have trouble filling jobs, even though the unemployment rate remains around seven percent. But when it comes to young people at least, the problem does not seem to be readiness to relocate for work.

Finns aged 20-34 have the third-highest rate of domestic mobility in the EU, according to Eurostat data from 2016.

Fourteen percent of working Finns of that age moved for their current job, the statistics indicate. That is just behind France with 16 percent, while the most mobile are in Ireland, where 26 percent had moved for their present posts. Neighbouring Sweden was at about the same level as Finland, 13 percent.

All the other EU states had rates in the single digits, starting with Portugal and Britain at nine percent. The lowest rate was in Italy – at just one percent.

Ismo Söderling, a researcher in demographic policy at the Migration Institute of Finland, says these are significant figures.

“Young Finns seem to have a strong work ethic and a strong desire to stay employed,” he tells Yle.

100,000 young internal migrants

In Finland, one in seven workers under 35 said they had relocated for their present job. That adds up to around 100,000 people. Internal migration in Finland is usually directed toward provincial centres.

In Sweden, young people tend to be slightly international-minded when relocating for work, the data suggests. It also indicates that urbanisation is more advanced in Sweden, a process that is accelerating in Finland.

Young unemployed Finns, meanwhile, were less willing to move in pursuit of work – ranking among the EU’s bottom five.

Young people in Portugal were the most interested in relocating for jobs, either domestically or internationally. Sweden was second in this regard.

Söderling says that Finns have always moved abroad when they can’t find work at home, particularly since the 1960s and ‘70s, when large numbers moved to Sweden.

“There is still active emigration from Finland. The native population is declining due to strong migration trends. Our country’s population growth is based on immigration. Our own migratory tendencies somewhat resemble those of the Irish,” Söderling notes.

A larger proportion of those who stay put are over 35, he says.

“Finnish adults’ unwillingness to move is shaped by their life situations, for instance long-term joblessness or being on an unemployment path to retirement,” Söderling explains.

Younger individuals are also less likely to have fixed assets or their own home.

“Home ownership is unusually common in Finland. In a way, that makes you a serf, dependent on your own home,” he says.

Finns tend to work while studying

More than nine-tenths of Finns work while pursuing their studies, whereas the EU average is less than half.

Young Finns have the EU’s highest rate of unpaid work internships and of combining paid and unpaid work, including vocational placements as part of their studies.

Curiously, jobseekers aged 20-34 seemed relatively uninterested in working elsewhere in the EU – with most expressing the wish to find jobs either locally or outside the EU.

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