Mayors of six largest cities call for quick solutions to talent shortage


The demographic development of Finland and the acute shortage of talent that companies are struggling with require more systematic and long-term investment in attracting international talent. Therefore, the next government programme must recognise the importance of cities in EU cooperation and set common goals for the government and cities to ensure that Finland will be more competent and competitive in the future.

The government and large cities must coordinate their operational goals and resources related to the availability of labour in a more strategic partnership. For example, Finland’s existing international organisations and networks, such as Business Finland and network of embassies, must be utilised more effectively when municipalities and companies attract and recruit international manpower. 

Companies’ possibilities of recruiting international employees are directly affected by how smooth the Finnish residence permit and registration processes are and whether settlement services are available to all those relocating here. It is key that all employees who have arrived in Finland are allowed to work as quickly as possible. Targeted measures are also needed to support the spouses of international experts and students to access working life quickly. The government must further accelerate the residence permit and registration processes of international experts, entrepreneurs and their family members and support their quick access to settlement and integration services by funding targeted projects. The fast-track service for specialists and startup entrepreneurs successfully accelerated the permit process for these groups last year. This work should now be continued and the client-oriented approach further promoted across agency boundaries, including Kela, the Tax Administration and the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. Identification methods for foreigners must also be developed in order to enable more extensive use of e-services. This includes the digitalisation of services and guidance concerning residence permits. 

Integration of international degree students into working life must be supported 

International degree students’ transition to working life must be supported by investing in their job-application training, Finnish and Swedish studies, and networking with Finnish students and employers during their studies. 

Higher education and vocational institutions should include Finnish and Swedish studies in their degree programmes. Finnish and Swedish studies should be available even after graduation, and students should be offered individual support for job searching and work coaching. The Ministry of Education and Culture must encourage higher education institutions to ensure that, upon graduation, degree students have not only sector-specific competence but also the necessary linguistic skills for them to find employment in the Finnish labour market. Education-based immigration must be focused on students who pay tuition fees so that the tuition fees can be used to cover the costs of the degree. 

English-language general upper secondary education must be enabled 

English-language general upper secondary school education must be enabled by also providing the national matriculation examination in English.  From the perspective of a coherent learning path, it is important that pupils who have completed their basic education in English have the opportunity to continue their studies in English-language general upper secondary education. 

EU cooperation of cities and the government must be increased

The next government programme must recognise the importance of cities in EU cooperation and set common goals for the government and cities to ensure that Finland will be more competent and competitive in the future. 

Juhana Vartiainen
Mayor, Helsinki

Jukka Mäkelä
Mayor, Espoo

Ritva Viljanen
Mayor, Vantaa

Minna Arve
Mayor, Turku

Anna-Kaisa Ikonen
Mayor, Tampere

Seppo Määttä
Mayor, Oulu

As the chair of the Eurocities Economic Forum, Helsinki is hosting the “Igniting Innovation – European Cities tackling pressing global challenges” forum in Helsinki on 23–24 March 2023. In the European Year of Skills 2023, more than 200 European urban politicians and specialists are seeking solutions for sustainable development and the shortage of talent. The forum explores the role of cities in addressing global challenges such as the climate- and energy crisis and the economic downturn. In addition, the forum aims to advance the dialogue between cities and the European Commission on future measures related to ensuring the availability of labour. The six largest cities in Finland participate in the Economic Forum.