With a labour shortage on the horizon due to the country's aging population, there are an increasing number of opportunities for international workers
The country is well known for its high standard of living, and with the nation's workers unable to meet the demand for skills in various sectors (as reported by thisisFINLAND), now's a good time to consider your own Finnish adventure.
Jobs in Finland
Finland's job market has historically been dominated by agriculture and manufacturing. Its main industries are chemicals, electronics, metal, wood and paper, but there's a growing need to fill positions in IT, hospitality, finance, construction and education. The majority of positions exist in healthcare and social work, as well as in private technical, administrative and support services.
Led by Nokia, Finland's telecommunications and IT industry has made it one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. While the country's biggest employer has around 57,000 staff, the majority of organisations have fewer than 50 employees.
How to get a job in Finland
Most workers tend to apply for jobs from their home country - either through a jobs portal or a multinational company with a presence in Finland.
Visit Enterprise Finland if you're thinking of starting your own business in the country.
Volunteering can actually help you to improve your Finnish while ensuring you embrace the country's culture.
Kansainvälinen vapaaehtoistyö ry (KVT), the Finnish branch of Service Civil International (SCI), organises short-term work camps typically lasting for two weeks, as well as projects lasting for up to 12 months. The aim is to support local initiatives while promoting equality, social acceptance and respect for the environment.
The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission (EC), is a scheme aimed at people aged 17 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for between two weeks and 12 months.
Essential costs such as accommodation, living and transport expenses are covered by the scheme, with placements ranging from those related to sport and culture, to others focused on social care and the environment.
Despite the fact that Swedish is Finland's second language, teaching English as a foreign language is one of the most accessible jobs for native English speakers living abroad. You don't need to be fluent in Finnish or Swedish to do this, as it is preferable to create a strictly English-speaking classroom environment.
Finnish employers expect graduates to have relevant experience before they are hired. Therefore, internships and summer work placements may provide a gateway to employment.
Student placements can be arranged by:
- AIESEC UK - for students and recent graduates;
- IAESTE UK - for science, engineering, technology and applied arts students.
If you're a citizen of the European Union (EU), or a resident of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, then you're free to move to Finland and start looking for work immediately without the need for a work permit. You'll still need to register your residence in the country at your local police station.
EU nationals may also be entitled to have certain types of health and social security coverage transferred to the country in which they go to seek work. For country-specific information on social security entitlements, see the European Commission.
For those from outside of the EU, an employment-based residence permit is required in order to work in the country. However, if you're entering the country to work in one of the job roles listed on the Finnish Immigration Service website, you'll just need to get a standard residence permit. Those from Australia or New Zealand may be eligible for a working holiday visa.
This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes happen.
The country has two official languages:
- Finnish - sometimes referred to as Suomi;
- Swedish - spoken by only around 6% of the population.
There are very few jobs where it's possible to work without knowing any Finnish, so a good grasp of the language is important. The type of job that you do will also affect how good your language skills need to be. For example, you will need quite a high level of Finnish to work in the healthcare sector.
Many good websites exist to help you learn the language or improve your skills for free - for example, Venla and Infopankki.fi. There's also Finn-Guild - the largest Finnish-British organisation, with 6,000 members divided between the two countries. It organises evening courses, intensive courses and private tuition.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
In the majority of cases, your UK qualifications will be comparable to their Finnish equivalent, and will therefore be fully recognised by employers.
However, if it's necessary to get your qualifications evaluated - for example, to work in a regulated profession such as healthcare or teaching - you'll need to visit the Finnish National Board of Education.
What it's like to work in Finland
- a good knowledge of Finnish is essential in the workplace;
- businesses are generally relaxed on working hours, adopting a flexible approach;
- employees are expected to work autonomously without the need for continual supervision;
- Finnish workers aren't afraid to speak their mind and will let management know if they have any problems;
- punctuality is highly valued in Finland, so don't be late for work and meetings;
- there's an emphasis on equality in the workplace with directors more openly accessible to employees.