The Finnish Chamber of Commerce has called on the government of Prime Minister Sanna Marin to adopt a numerical target level for education and employment-based immigration in order to alleviate the acute labour shortage in the Nordic country.
Finland's Chamber of Commerce said the government should set the objective of bringing at least 30,000 immigrants in to work or study in the country over the course of 2022. CEO Johanna Sipola ventured that this “moderate initial objective” would increase skills-based immigration by a third compared to the year before the coronavirus pandemic.
To put things in perspective, a total of 45,613 babies were born in 2019, according to Statistics Finland, 1,964 fewer than in the year before. The number of births had fallen by 2,744 children in 2018 from the previous year.
After that, the annual target should be raised in the coming years and doubled by the end of the decade, the Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.
“We need workers to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic on a growth trajectory. The shortage of skilled labour has been a significant growth obstacle for businesses regardless of the coronavirus. It is necessary that we attract talent from outside the country”, Sipola said.
Sipola underscored the importance of funding efforts to promote immigration, adding that this problem should be addressed as early as possible.
“Finland must definitely make sure the permit processes are smooth and the resources for processing permits are sufficient. We must put an end to humiliating international experts in permit lines,” she said.
Earlier this spring, Employment Minister Tuula Haatainen announced that Finland will trial a fast lane that should guarantee that the electronically submitted residence permit applications of special experts, startup entrepreneurs and their family members are processed within two weeks at most. According to her, this project will materialise by the end of the year at its earliest.
The Finnish government has already embarked on a number of projects aimed to promote skills-based immigration. Among others, work to automate and speed up the related work permit procedures has commenced.
As of now, there are over 400,000 foreigners residing in Finland, which corresponds to over 7 percent of the population. According to a 2016 estimate, the number of foreigners in Finland will reach 1.2 million.