Despite its skilled workforce, Finland has an ageing population - so graduates with ability in the most sought-after fields could give their career prospects a boost by working here
With around 180,000 islands and over 188,000 lakes, Finland is a country of breathtaking natural beauty. It's home to the Midnight Sun, a permanent sunrise throughout June and July.
Despite an average 40-hour working week, you'll enjoy a high standard of living with plenty of time to explore its emerald green forests, beautiful landscapes and waters. Most workers get five to six weeks of annual leave while flexible working was introduced here over two decades ago.
If you're a coffee lover, you'll fit right in - the Finnish are renowned caffeine fanatics, with each Finn consuming on average 12 kilograms of coffee per year.
Jobs in Finland
Finland's job market has traditionally been dominated by manufacturing, with its main exports including machinery, paper and wood products, electrical equipment, optical equipment and vehicles.
The country's technology and IT industry has now become its biggest sector and it is regarded as a major European tech hub. Led by Nokia, which was a huge player in the early days of mobile phones and now focuses on network equipment, software and services, technology represents over half of Finnish exports.
Popular graduate jobs
- Machinery and scientific instruments
You can also search for jobs on the following sites:
Finland is facing a future labour shortage, as the current generation of workers within its population of 5.5 million aren't qualified to fill the shoes of the soon-to-be-retiring baby boomer generation.
A survey by the Technology Industries of Finland, which questioned 350 companies representing around a third of all businesses in this sector, found that 53,000 workers are needed in the tech industry by 2021. Digitalisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics are key areas where skilled workers are most needed.
The healthcare sector - covering roles such as medical practitioner, dentist and speech therapist - has taken a hard knock too, where there's a desperate demand for qualified nurses.
The teaching, social work and counselling and business and administration sectors are also suffering shortages.
To add to this, the Union of Professional Engineers in Finland has reported that up to three-quarters of businesses employing engineers have encountered recruitment issues. The rapid advancements in technology has meant that even recent graduates don't have the necessary skills for these roles, which has opened the door for international workers.
You'll therefore be regarded highly by Finnish employers if you're qualified or looking for work in any of these areas.
How to get a job in Finland
It's best to start your search for work before you move. There are plenty of ways to do this:
- Finland's employment advisory service for international workers, TE-palvelut, provides an online job search service. Use the filtered search to display English-speaking opportunities.
- The European Commission offers its job mobility portal EURES, which European Union (EU) citizens can use to find work in other member countries.
- You can use recruitment sites, such as Monster and Eurojobs, to see what's on offer.
- Social media is a big part of recruitment in Finland. Discover how your online presence could help your job hunt.
- A lot of jobs aren't publically advertised. Sending speculative applications to companies you'd like to work for is a great way to make a good first impression and demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to finding work.
If you wait until you arrive in Finland to look for a job, you'll find vacancies advertised in the local and national press, as well as on television.
It's important that your CV and cover letter are written to Finnish standards:
- Your CV should be a maximum of two pages in length, easy to read and visually effective - list your relevant employment and experience in reverse chronological order, and don't waffle or exaggerate.
- Your cover letter should be a maximum of one page and tailored to the specific employer - you won't get away with sending out multiple copies to a number of companies.
Expat-Finland provides CV and cover letter advice to give you an idea of what to aim for.
For more information on how to go self-employed or become a partner of a business, visit Expat Finland - Establishing a business in Finland.
For guidance on how to secure summer work in the country, see TE-palvelut - Finding a job. On the site, you can search for summer vacancies.
Alternatively, you could complete a volunteering placement to develop your skills, improve your Finnish and embrace the country's culture.
The Finnish branch of Service Civil International (SCI), Kansainvälinen vapaaehtoistyöry (KVT) organises short-term volunteer work camps. Typically lasting two weeks (although some projects run for 12 months), their aim is to support local initiatives while promoting equality, social acceptance and respect for the environment. You'll need to pay co-ordinance fees, and sort your own visa (where appropriate).
As an EU citizen, you could look into joining the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Funded by the European Commission, EVS offers 17 to 30 year olds the chance to take on a placement, from two to 12 weeks in length, in a number of participating countries and a range of areas, from working with sports and children to cultural heritage and environmental preservation.
Although you might have to contribute towards or pay for your travel, the scheme covers the costs of your accommodation, food and insurance, and you'll be provided with an allowance throughout your placement.
There are plenty of opportunities to teach English as a second language in Finland. It's a less popular ESL teaching destination, so there are more job openings in urban areas, such as Tampere, Turku and the capital Helsinki.
You'll most likely find opportunities in private and international schools, and you won't need to be fluent in Finnish or Swedish to teach English - creating a strictly English-speaking classroom environment is preferable.
The minimum entry requirements to teach English in Finland are a Bachelors degree and Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. Individual schools may have their own requirements, so check before you apply. Explore the qualification further by reading our advice on teaching English abroad.
Finnish employers expect graduates to have relevant experience before they're hired. 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 an EU/EEA citizen or a resident of Switzerland, Liechtenstein or a Nordic country, you won't need a visa to enter Finland. However, you'll need to apply for a residence permit if you're staying longer than three months, which you'll do through your local police station.
All workers from outside these countries need to obtain a residence permit to enter Finland before arriving, which can be applied for in the Finnish embassy or consulate in your country or online through EnterFinland.fi.
You'll need a self-employment permit if you're moving to Finland to start a business, which can be granted once you've submitted your business to the Finnish Trade Register.
Residence permit applications can take up to four months to be processed and approved, so apply as early as possible.
If you're planning to stay longer than a year you'll also need to register with the Finnish Population Information System, which you'll do through your nearest Local Register office.
Finland has two main official languages, Finnish and Swedish, although Swedish is only the first language of 10% of the population. There are also a number of minority languages, including Romani, Sami and Finnish Sign Language.
A good grasp of Finnish is essential to work in the vast majority of sectors. Not only to succeed professionally, but to integrate in society - and for your own safety - it's vital for you to learn the language.
Your line of work will determine the level of proficiency you'll need. For instance, you'll need an excellent understanding of Finnish to work in healthcare, business and other customer-facing roles.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
As Finland is a member of the Bologna Process, ensuring direct comparability of qualifications across EU member states, you shouldn't have a problem explaining the qualifications you've gained in the UK to Finnish employers.
However, you may be required to have your qualifications officially recognised to work in some regulated professions, such as healthcare and education. Your employer can advise on whether this applies to you - if so, you'll need to visit the Finnish National Agency for Education.
What's it like to work in Finland?
The 2019 Work-Life Balance Index ranked Helsinki as the best city for work/life balance beating the competition provided by 40 of the world's most attractive cities. It led the way on many of the 20 different factors relating to work intensity, society and its institutions.
Finland currently leads the way in terms of flexible working with new laws (Working Hours Act) set to give employees the opportunity to choose when and where they work for at least half of their contracted working hours.
Traditionally, Finnish workers have stuck to a 40-hour week, typically 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday, with a one-to-two-hour lunch break. In addition to 25 days' minimum annual leave, employees also enjoy 13 bank holidays per year.
Everyone is treated as equal in the workplace - colleagues at all levels are involved in decision-making. While employees are encouraged to manage their workload independently, prioritising punctuality in completing work to deadlines, they're also encouraged to approach management with any problems for support and discussion.
You'll only pay tax if you're working in Finland for longer than six months, in which case you'll need to apply for a tax card at your local tax office. Visit Finland's tax administration website for more information.
Following the UK's exit from the EU on 31 January 2020, this information is likely to change. Please check official sources for the most up-to-date information.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in Finland.
- Visit GOV.UK - Living in Finland for the latest Finnish travel and visa advice.