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Finland moves to ease restrictions on non-EU workers

Finland moves to ease restrictions on non-EU workers

Last year, 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.

Red tape and shortage of Finnish IT workers
For software engineer Hussein Parsaiyan establishing a career in Finland didn’t get off to an easy start. The first hurdle was the language.

“Even though I passed all of the employer’s competence tests, I didn’t get the job,” Parsaiyan relates. “Later a Finnish friend who works in the company told me that they only employ Finns. I don’t quite understand that since the working language in this field is generally English.”

Then, bureaucracy stepped in. Parsaiyan signed a contract with the Helsinki-based Smarp IT company. But, because he had not yet completed his university degree, he was required to prove his competence and the importance of his work contribution to the local employment office.