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).



The integration outcomes of migrants in Finland

While employment rates among Finland’s native-born population consistently outperform the OECD average, among Finland’s foreign-born population, employment rates have fallen short of those achieved elsewhere. However, these average figures incorporate the outcomes of migrants with very different backgrounds, education and experience. They aggregate recent migrants with those who have resided in Finland for many years; those who arrived during boom, and during bust; the educated with the uneducated, the old with the young and men with women. They aggregate those who arrived from MENA, from southern Africa, or from Asia with those who arrived from elsewhere in Europe or North America. In order to try to pull apart some of these influences, the analysis of this chapter uses detailed administrative data to investigate the disparate integration pathways of Finland’s immigrant groups. Results suggest that while migrants from Estonians migrants integrate quickly, other groups – particularly those from refugee sending countries – see lower employment rates for many years. Women, in particular, are struggling to integrate and many remain locked in inactivity for many years.


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