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Working Together: Skills and Labour Market Integration of Immigrants and their Children in Finland

image of Working Together: Skills and Labour Market Integration of Immigrants and their Children in Finland

While Finland’s foreign-born population remains small by international standards, growth has been amongst the fastest in the OECD. Finland’s foreign-born population have lower employment rates than native-born Finns, and women, in particular, are struggling to integrate and face incentives to stay in the home. Indeed, the employment gap among those arriving from outside the European Union is among the largest in the OECD. This risks long-term implications for the integration of their children, many of whom are struggling to thrive in the Finnish school system. Large inflows of asylum seekers in 2015 put integration squarely on the agenda, and Finland developed a number of innovative integration policies in response. Yet, numbers have since fallen dramatically, raising questions of how to respond to the needs of a large cohort without scaling up the integration system on a permanent basis. This review, the second in a series on the skills and labour market integration of immigrants and their children, provides an assessment of these and other challenges. It includes a holistic assessment of Finland’s integration services – such as the new modular integration training, and the Social Impact Bond – as well as challenges related to settlement, early labour market contact and workplace segregation. An earlier review in the series looked at integration policies in Sweden (2016).

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Giving migrants in Finland a chance to demonstrate their skills

Many migrants bring with them skills that could be productively put to use in Finland – both formal qualifications and informal skills. As progress is made towards speeding the transition of new migrants into employment, long-run efficiency will require efforts to ensure migrants move into employment that is appropriate to their qualification and competences. Recognition is important part of this but, alongside this, it is important that migrants have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills – both cognitive and non-cognitive, formal and informal – through employment spells with Finnish employers. Chapter 4 looks at the challenges migrants face in demonstrating their skills – translating them for the Finnish labour market and gaining their first foothold in employment. The chapter investigates constraints on the demand for migrant skills as well as the policy responses that attempt to tackle them including wage subsidies and anti-discrimination policies.

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