New studies provide data on promotion of international recruitment in health and social services sector
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has commissioned two studies to support future decisions and measures to promote international recruitment in the healthcare and social welfare sector. The reports survey the experiences on international recruitment among healthcare and social welfare sector employers and those who have moved to Finland to work or study in the sector. The conclusion is that employees hired from abroad will be needed in great numbers in the next few years. With various means of support, the central government can help ensure that recruitment is successful.
The Finnish health and social services sector suffers from a shortage of skilled labour. In order to respond to this, it is necessary to recruit people from abroad to study or work in the sector. Currently, the number of international employees in the health and social services sector is still relatively low, amounting to a few per cent in most occupational groups. However, their number will likely grow significantly in the coming years.
Systematic measures to promote international recruitment in the healthcare and social welfare sector have been introduced during the government term ending in spring 2023. The measures have been carried out as part of the programme for ensuring the sufficiency and availability of healthcare and social welfare personnel, which is coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. To support future measures, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has commissioned surveys and interview studies on international recruitment needs in the healthcare and social welfare sector.
Employers have a great need for international professionals
A total of 130 employers from all wellbeing services counties, the private sector and other entities responded to the interview study. According to the wellbeing services counties and large private employers, in particular, the need for international recruitment to be significant at the moment. Of the total need for new personnel in the next two years, the wellbeing services counties estimated the need for international workforce at 20 per cent and large private employers at 18 per cent. International labour is needed especially as practical nurses and nurses.
More than half of the respondents who had already recruited personnel from abroad considered the experience fairly or very successful. Language skills were a common obstacle to successful international recruitment. Other challenges included finding competent personnel and bureaucracy involved in entering the country.
Many of the employers called for government support for language studies already before the employees enter the country as well as cooperation between the Finnish government or educational institutions with their counterparts abroad. The respondents also considered it important that the government participate in the costs of language studies during the settling-in process and that more support is provided to the employees and their families in the municipality of residence.
International employees have good experiences of Finland but need more support to learn the language
A total of 241 persons, most of whom had arrived in Finland within the past two years from outside the EU/EEA, responded to a survey addressed to health and social services sector employees and students. Most respondents were care assistants and practical nurses. The study is not a sample survey and its findings cannot be generalised to apply to the whole sector. However, the results can be considered indicative.
More than 80 per cent of the respondents felt that their immigration experience to Finland had been successful as a whole. In addition, 90 per cent could recommend studying or working in the health and social services sector in Finland. The negative experiences, on the other hand, were related to the challenges of learning the language, treatment in Finland and the level of pay in relation to the burden of work and living costs. About half of the nurses said they were doing work corresponding to the education they had acquired in their home country.
More than 80 per cent of the respondents felt that their countries of origin had given them sufficient capabilities to study or work in Finland. In contrast, they often considered their language skills to be lacking. The respondents most frequently mentioned support for language learning as an effective measure to support settling-in at work in Finland. Moreover, they called for measures to increase the receptiveness of Finnish society and working life and ease the process for acquiring and accrediting qualifications.
Similar studies will also be commissioned in the coming years to monitor the effectiveness and targeting of government measures.