At the beginning of the summer, Rovaniemi-based health food manufacturer Arctic Warriors was in trouble. The company was launching a new product, for which thousands of kilos of spruce tips were needed, but was left stranded with a lack of personnel. Luckily for them, local asylum accommodation in Ranua stepped in and filled the void. According to Arctic Warriors product manager Katja Misikangas, school was already over and underage asylum-seekers basically had nothing to do, so they were really keen about the job offer.
"They were really enthusiastic about the job. Just for the sake comparison: Finnish pickers harvest about 80 kilos of spruce tips on the average, whereas asylum-seekers got over 1,200 kilograms," Misikangas pointed out to Finnish newspaper Kauppalehti.
Last year's migrant crisis brought tens of thousands of new people to Finland. In 2015 alone, Nordic country took in 32,476 asylum-seekers. However, their employment poses significant difficulties, since the newcomers are not automatically enlisted at the country's Employment Service and reception centers have limited resources to identify their professional and language skills. At present, thousands of asylum-seekers are still waiting for application decisions and are left with no meaningful occupation.
Earlier, Justice Minister Jari Lindström of the Finns Party proposed seasonal jobs such as berry-picking to help the newcomers accommodate to Finland's labor market.
A number of reception centers have reportedly tried this idea. According to Sirpa Kansanaho, director of Oulu reception center, asylum-seekers are not accustomed to moving in the forest and picking berries, but would be happy if someone volunteered as a guide.Wasabladet reported.
In reality, most often it is cleaning jobs and other maintenance work. Risikko advocated abolishing the restrictions to make it easier for Finland to take advantage of people's knowledge and abilities.