In 2017, officials in southern Finland's Uusimaa region loosened rules on hiring non-EU and -EEA workers to ease a labour shortage in the construction sector. Now, they are looking at expanding the measure to other industries.
With a few exceptions, it is standard hiring practice in Finland to prioritise hiring job applicants who are citizens of an EU member state or a country that is a part of the European Economic Area.
Local employment offices can, however, ease restrictions on the basis of labour availability, in effect dropping the priority requirement approving work permits for non-EU and -EEA migrants in fields where there is a shortage of potential employees from EU and EEA countries.
For example, in April officials in the Pirkanmaa region rolled back the "labour availability consideration" requirement for jobs in metals and engineering, as well as building construction and heavy earthwork. Last year in the Uusimaa region house builders, carpenters, painters and plumbing installers were also taken off the list of jobs that prioritise EU and EEA employees. In January, those exceptions were expanded to include roofers, plasterers and insulation installers.
The system of labour availability consideration most often poses a barrier to blue-collar workers who want to take up jobs in Finland, but generally does not apply so much well-paid and well-educated specialists such as software engineers.
"Permit procedures should be flexible and adapt to labour market conditions. We are now moving into a situation in which foreign recruitment should be made easier," argues Olli Sorainen, Senior Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.