Skill shortages due to an ageing population mean there's never been a better time to boost your career prospects in Finland. Author: Emma Knowles, Editor
Finland is a country of breathtaking natural beauty, with nearly 180,000 islands and an incredible 187,888 lakes. It's also home to the ' Midnight Sun', a permanent sunrise in the north throughout June and July.
Despite Finland's average 40-hour working week, you'll enjoy a high standard of living with plenty of time to explore its forests, landscapes and waters, thanks to a national minimum of five weeks' annual leave per year.
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 is increasingly becoming one of its most important, with nearly 700,000 Finns working in the sector in some form. Led by mobile phone giants Nokia, technology companies bring international income and interest into Finland and are responsible for 70% of all investment in the country's research and development.
POPULAR GRADUATE JOBS
Machinery and scientific instruments
Finland is facing a future labour shortage, as the current generation of workers aren't qualified to fill the shoes of the soon-to-be-retiring baby boomer generation.
The healthcare sector - covering roles such as medical practitioner, dentist and speech therapist - has taken the hardest knock, where one in four of Finland's young people would have to train as nurses to sufficiently fill the country's hospitals without the help of international workers.
The teaching, social work and counselling and business and administration sectors are also suffering shortages.
To add to this, the Helsinki Times identified the engineering sector, as well as manual labour roles such as roofing and concrete placing, as areas where international workers would be needed in 2017/18.
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 in Finland 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 EURES, its job mobility portal, which as a European Union (EU) citizen you can use to find work in other member countries.
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 covering letter should be a maximum of one page long and tailored to the specific employer - you won't get away with sending out multiple copies to a number of companies.
Expat-Finland provides a CV and cover letter template 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.
Kansainvälinen vapaaehtoistyöry (KVT), the Finnish branch of Service Civil International (SCI), 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 traditionally a less popular ESL teaching destination, so there are plenty of job openings in the country's more 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.
As a general rule, 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 it's best to check before you apply.
Finnish employers expect graduates to have relevant experience before they are 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 it's advisable to 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 data 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 spoken in the country, 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.
Sites such as venla.info and infopankki.fi can also help you improve your language skills for free, and Expat-Finland has information about language schools and courses you can enrol on.
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?
A recent study by TotallyMoney showed Finland's workforce to have the fourth best work/life balance in Europe. Workers enjoy 13 bank holidays per year, 25 days' minimum annual leave and a 38-40 hour working week, typically 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday with a one to two hour lunch break.
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.
Finland - National Level
Short overview of the labour market
The population of Finland is approximately 5.5 million. The size of the country’s working age population will decrease in the coming years due to an increasing rate of retirement. At the same time, the number of immigrants is growing, and people are staying at work longer. In 2018, the labour force consisted of just under 2.5 million workers. The average number of people unemployed in 2018 was approximately 200 000, and the unemployment rate was around 7.5 %.
Today, most employed persons in Finland work in the service sector. The sectors employing the largest number of people are commerce, transport, hotel and catering services, education, health and social services, and other services. Employment in the service sector is expected to continue to increase in the future.
Some of the largest employers in Finland are Posti Group Corporation, offering postal and courier services, the OP Financial Group, providing banking and insurance services, and ISS Palvelut Oy, which provides property and facility management services. The largest number of recent new employment opportunities have been in small and medium-sized enterprises. In Finland, the public sector is also a big employer. For example, the City of Helsinki is the largest single employer in Finland. It offers employment in the sectors of education, health and social services, transport and maintenance.
Employers’ requirements regarding the staff they employ vary greatly according to the job. The absence of suitable employees in Finland is often due to jobseekers’ inadequate training, or lack of relevant work experience or specialist skills.
Finland uses a system that provides detailed information on which professions and occupations have a demand for or possible lack of workers (the Occupational Barometer).