Expertise, language skills and cultural understanding – international students a great opportunity for Finland

Each year, some 270 international students in various fields graduate from LUT University and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences. Many foreign-born graduates are keen to remain in Finland to live and work.

Finnish businesses are unenthusiastic about recruiting international talent, according to a study by LUT University student Patricia Virsinger on foreigners' experiences on finding employment in Finland. Funded by Southeast Finland ELY Centre, the study involved a survey of 168 international students and alumni at LUT University and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences.

"At the outset of their studies, 73% of respondents had plans for a career in Finland. A majority of those who responded were even prepared to move to anywhere in Finland for interesting job opportunities", Virsinger sums ups.

Despite this, finding employment during and after studies is often a challenge. The respondents found that no interesting jobs were available to them.

As obstacles to employability, those who took part in the study listed poor language skills and a lack of professional networks in Finland, among other reasons. Respondents also felt that Finnish businesses are somewhat apprehensive to hire foreign-born applicants. The Finnish job-hunting process was also considered difficult.

"In general, international students want more support in finding job opportunities and preparing for working life. There is also a need for more language courses in Finnish", Virsinger explains.

Enormous untapped workforce potential

According to Elina Hannikainen-Himanen, Career Services Coordinator at LUT University, holding on to international talent for the benefit of Finnish business life also requires strong efforts from companies to re-evaluate their internal practices and adopt a more receptive and open attitude towards international students.

"We have on our hands an enormous potential of employees who are educated, motivated and, thanks to years of studies, already integrated with Finnish society and way of life. That potential should not be allowed to go to waste," says Hannikainen-Himanen.

Businesses, public organisations and non-profits can all facilitate the employment of international students by offering internships, summer jobs and student project collaboration.

Results of the study by Patricia Virsinger will be used by Southeast Finland ELY Centre for planning networking activities and upcoming regional projects to support services for businesses.

"Our goal is to identify targets for developing the employment process and models for international students", says Team Finland coordinator Juha Linden.

Further information:

Elina Hannikainen-Himanen, LUT Career Services
tel. +358 40573 3790

Juha Linden, Team Finland coordinator, Southeast Finland ELY Centre
tel. +358 295 029 069
juha.linden@ely-keskus.fi