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Working in Finland
Find out how to get a job and work 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 GO! covers the basics of working in Finland, from finding a job to learning Finnish.
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Employment in Finland
- Finland offers tremendous support for its residents as well as expats.
- The service industry currently employs the most people, and entrepreneurship is actively encouraged.
- Different job portals are available online, and knowing Finnish helps you in your job hunt.
- Finns enjoy a high standard of living, not least of all thanks to an excellent social security system.
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.
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Job Search and Taxation in Finland
Where to Look for Work
An excellent website for looking for work isMol. The website is available in Finnish, Swedish, and English; however, the individual vacancies are only listed in Finnish. It is run by the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy (TE Office). If you move to Finland before you have found a job, you should register with your local TE Office upon your arrival as they provide assistance for finding work.
You should also check the EU Public Employment Service job database:EURES. They regularly post job openings for Finland. Jobsin Finland is also a handy website for English-speaking expats who are on the hunt for a job.
There is room in the Finnish economy for entrepreneurs and for people who wish to be self-employed. If you have a proposal for a business, submit it to the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment. If they consider your plan to be feasible, you can then apply for a work permit as a self-employed person.
A Bilingual Country
Both Finnish (suomi) and Swedish (svenska) are the official languages of Finland, making it a bilingual country. The vast majority of Finns speak Finnish, about 94.2% of the population. Around 5.6% are native Swedish speakers and roughly 0.2% speak Sami, the language of the indigenous people (predominantly in Lapland).
Finnish is a rather mysterious language. It has no relation to the Scandinavian languages to its west, or to the Slavic languages to its east. However, the language of its neighbor across the Baltic Sea, Estonian, is part of the same language family, the Baltic Finnic languages, which is part of the larger Uralic language family (that includes Hungarian).
Finnish has the reputation of being difficult to learn and in some part, this may well be because most people learning Finnish have to start completely from scratch. Unlike how that one semester of Spanish might help you read a menu written in Italian, the languages you do speak are unlikely to help you learn Finnish. That being said, learning Finnish is well worth the effort as it will enrich your experience of Finnish life.
How to Increase Your Chances of Landing a Job
Do keep in mind that Finland might not necessarily recognize your qualifications from another country. For example, if you are registered as a doctor in your home country, you might have to re-qualify in Finland by completing further training and proving proficiency in one of Finland’s official languages. For more information regarding transfers of education, consultthe Finnish National board of Education’s website.
Speaking either Finnish or Swedish will enormously increase your chances of finding employment in Finland. Although Swedish is the easier of the two to learn, it makes less sense to learn the language that only about 5% of the population speaks as a mother tongue. That being said, knowing it will be an asset nonetheless.
The University of Helsinki offers a popularFinnish for Foreignerscourse. It is open to everyone and you do not need to be a student to apply. You can take Finnish courses year round and register online. The university also has awebsitethat introduces you to the basics so that you can get a head start before your first class.
Summer universities are popular in Finland and many of them also offer Finnish for foreigners. The website Summer Universities in Finland has alistof all programs. People of all ages and educational backgrounds can attend summer universities.
The City of Helsinki also has awebsitewhere you can search for Finnish courses.
Make Sure to Get Your Finnish Tax Card
If you work in Finland, you must have a tax card. Contact the Tax Administration regarding regulations and advice. You need to have a personal identity code in order to apply. TheTax Administrationprovides assistance in English as well as in Swedish and Finnish.
Income tax is progressive in Finland; so, the more money you make the more tax you pay. If you start working before you have a tax card, then you’ll automatically pay 60% tax until you receive your tax card and appropriate tax bracket.
If you are residing in Finland, you have to pay tax on your whole income no matter if it was made abroad or in Finland.
Working Conditions in Finland
Working Conditions — From Trade Unions to Holidays
Trade unions are common in Finland and the majority of Finns belong to one. To become a member of the trade union in your field, you have to pay a fee, but this fee is tax deductible.
Most workplaces have a shop steward who represents all employees. This is your contact person for any questions you have about work.
There are ten public holidays in Finland. The minimum holiday allowance is two vacation days for each month worked, meaning the minimum is 24 holidays a year. The work week in Finland is 40 hours, so eight hours a day. There is, naturally, some variation across sectors.
Employers often provide occupational healthcare services (in addition to Kela). Some employers also provide meal benefits.
Equality in the Workplace
Workplaces in Finland both preach and practice equality between women and men and between immigrants and Finns. Female emancipation has strong roots in Finland. In 1906, Finland was the first country in Europe that granted women the right to vote.
Today, there are more female than male students in university and the majority of women with children work. Unfortunately, like in many countries, men still have higher salaries than women; however, there is legislation in Finland that is actively trying to change that.
The Finnish Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in 2004 and updated in 2015, which aims to promote and protect equality in all areas of society, especially the workplace.
Comprehensive Social Security
There are three different types of pensions in Finland. These are the guarantee pension, the national pension, and the earnings-related pension. Kela pays both the guarantee pension and the national pension as the two are for people without pensions generated by earnings, or for those who only have low earning pensions. The earnings-related pension is paid by authorized pension providers. The accrual rate for this pension is 1.5% for employees aged 18 to 52 and then accrual rate increases after the age of 52. The size of a pension reflects a person’s annual earnings.
Retirement age in Finland is between 63 and 68. For people with a pension from Kela, retirement age is 65. Retiring before this age will result in a permanently smaller pension payment.
To be eligible for social security as a resident from a non-EU/EEA country, your primary home must be in Finland. This qualifies you as permanently residing in Finland, which then also qualifies you for Finnish social security.
Coffee Loving Finns’ Business Etiquette
It is common for work colleagues to call each other by their first names; however, it may be more appropriate to use last names in formal meetings, especially with customers. Observe the behavior in your office and ask your employer or colleagues if you are not sure.
Finns value punctuality and it is especially important at the workplace. If you are supposed to start working at 8:00, you are expected to be at your desk at 8:00 and not rushing in the door. The Finnish expression for “be on time” isÄlä myöhästyand it applies to both your social and professional life.
When someone rings you on the phone, it is impolite to answer by saying just hello. Instead, answer the phone by saying your name.
Finns apparently hold a world record when it comes to drinking coffee as, on average, Finns drink nine cups of coffee (not espresso, we’re talking about proper cups) a day! However, if you are not a coffee drinker, it is perfectly fine to decline a cup when offered.
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