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Working in Finland?

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Francois Bertrand

Living in Finland, from Canada

"I found a former Helsinki expat who had recently moved back to Brazil, so we swapped all the important need-to-knows."

Maria Loura

Living in Finland, from Brazil

"Some information on InterNations helped me a great deal, and I'm sure other expats in Helsinki feel the same way."

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Finland at a Glance

Working in Finland

Working in Finland comes with many opportunities, for example in the IT and healthcare sectors. If you have an entrepreneurial mind, it is also fruitful territory to launch new projects and to be self-employed. InterNations covers the basics of working in Finland, from finding a job to learning Finnish.

The Finnish Economy

Finland is a small country. Out of its 5.4 million inhabitants, only 2.7 million are working in Finland. Nonetheless, it now has one of the highest per capita incomes in Western Europe. Considering how small the country’s workforce is, it is impressive that its per capita output is nearly the same as Sweden’s and the Netherlands’. 

International trade accounts for about a third of Finland’s GDP. Among Finland’s main exports are chemicals, wood and paper products, machinery, metals, electronics (especially mobile phones), and transport equipment. It is also strong in engineering.

Regarding the global financial crisis, Finnish banks and its economy as a whole dodged the worst. Because exports are an important component of the Finnish GDP, the economic slowdown hit Finland in 2009 when it experienced deep contraction. Finland quickly bounced back in 2010 and 2011, though. Issues such as stimulating exports and managing the debt ratio still exist, but Finland seems to have everything under control.

Although Finland’s economy is currently strong, its aging population is of great concern for the long term as this threatens productivity and, therefore, competitiveness. Because of this, people are working longer and there are more foreign nationals working in Finland, too.

The unemployment rate in Finland in 2015 was 9.4%.

A Welcoming Place for Expats

Finland is a republic and its long form name is Suomen tasavalta. Since May 2015, the prime minister of Finland has been Juha Sipilä from the Centre Party (a centrist, liberal party). Since 1995, Finland has also been a member of the European Union and it is the only Nordic country that has the euro as its currency.

Finland is a social welfare state and the support it provides its residents is immense. For example, if you are working in Finland and are planning on staying, you are entitled to integration services. From providing general guidance, access to language classes, and even assistance with looking for employment, the integration services aim to ease the transition to Finnish life. If you need assistance finding work, you should certainly take advantage of these services.

Not only thanks to this, the Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) ranked Finland fourth in a 2014 study that examined integration policies in 38 countries. The only three countries that scored higher than Finland were Sweden, Portugal, and New Zealand.

Taking Up Employment in Finland

A large portion of people who work in Finland are employed in the service industry, which includes commerce, education, health and social services (a growing sector), restaurant and hotel services, and transportation. Nokia is a Finnish multinational electronic manufacturer and a large employer. Other large Finnish companies include Itella Corporation (which provides postal and financial services), Kesko Corporation (which is a retail and wholesale trading company specializing in food, machinery, home improvement, and building), and UPM (a paper manufacturer). In rural Finland, forestry is an important industry.

The largest single employer in all of Finland is actually the city of Helsinki — making the public sector a significant employer as well. People who work in Finland’s capital in the public sector have jobs in maintenance, education, transportation, healthcare, and social services.

Expats working in Finland should be aware of which industries have labor shortages. The industries with a current demand for workers are administrative and support services, accommodation and catering, technical sales, and hospitality, thus making them attractive options for qualified job seekers.

Small- and medium-sized businesses have also been more active in recent years in creating new employment contracts for foreign nationals. Self-employment is one option for entrepreneurial-minded people to work in Finland: there are more and more microenterprises (which employ fewer than 10 people) and Finland actively encourages entrepreneurial ideas.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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