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Major Unemployment Differences Among Immigrant Groups

Significant differences exist in the employment situation for immigrants of different nationalities in Finland. The highest rates of unemployment are found among Somalis, Iraqis and Afghans who arrived as refugees. Annika Forsander, who is Director of Immigration Affairs for the City of Helsinki, is especially critical of employer discrimination against Somalis.

Ravintoloitsija Erkan Uzun pyöräyttää pizzapohjan.
Image: YLE

Figures from Statistics Finland show that unemployment rates vary greatly according to nationality. Refugees top the list of those without jobs. For example, the rate of unemployment for Somalis, Iraqis and Afghans is over 50%. That they ended up in Finland, in many cases, was a matter of chance and finding a way into the job market can take years.

The Director of Immigration Affairs for the City of Helsinki, Annika Forsander, is dismayed by the position of Somalis in the Finnish capital. In other countries, Somali immigrants have integrated well into society.

"Discrimination is clearly the big reason why Somalis have not been able to enter the job market. Of those who have been here 15 to 20 years, half have completed degrees in Finland. Not even that helps," says Forsander.

Language skills are often used as an excuse by employers to turn down foreign job applicants.

"If someone has been able to complete a degree using Finnish, it is hard to accuse him or her of lacking language skills," Forsander points out.

The rate of unemployment among native, ethnic Finns is 8.7%. There are some smaller groups of foreign residents whose unemployment rate is even lower. For example, unemployment among Indians and Nepalese is 7%. Also, immigrants from other Western countries do well in the job market.

According to Annika Forsander, foreigners in this category have usually moved to Finland for jobs.

"For example, among the Indians there are many who come to work in the IT sector, and also many entrepreneurs," Forsander explains.

Unemployment among Finland's largest foreign community, Russians, is around 28%. As a group, the Russian community is very heterogeneous.

Because of difficulties in finding a job, resident foreigners often start their own business.

The most entrepreneurial group is Turks. One third of residents of Turkish origin run their own businesses. Among native Finns, that figure is only 10%.

Sources: YLE

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