Joint statement by the Finnish Startup Community: Finland must be the world’s best country for talent – the government programme undermines this goal

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Joint statement by the Finnish Startup Community: Finland must be the world’s best country for talent – the government programme undermines this goal

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections, there was considerable discussion about how to make Finland an attractive place for top talent. It does not suffice to simply be a good and attractive country – we must be the best in the world.

The government programme made advances on work-based immigration, such as a one-week time frame for skilled talent to be granted a work permit. While this is a step forward, alone it falls short of positioning Finland as the most attractive destination for international talent.

The section on immigration in the new government programme creates a significant threat to the entire Finnish startup ecosystem and undermines the growth prospects of the Finnish economy.

Likely, the intentions of the proposed provisions were to introduce a sense of stringency. However, the approaches outlined in the program do not correspond in any way to the intended objectives. On the contrary, the strictures set out in the programme paints an unwelcoming image of Finland as a country hostile to foreigners – including those already working here. Work-based immigration is of paramount importance to Finland, considering our ageing population and shortage of workers. Failing to address this issue, will undeniably position us unfit to sustain our country in the future. According to estimates, there is a substantial demand for tens of thousands of migrant workers annually. It is imperative that we implement conscious and tangible measures to position ourselves as an appealing alternative to other nations.

The Finnish Startup Community stated in its goals that the government programme should include a clear two-week service guarantee, that includes all essential services that a migrant worker might need when moving to Finland from abroad. These services should encompass work permits, assistance in opening bank accounts, and support in securing English-based school placements for their children. It is crucial to streamline these services through a centralized one-stop system. France, which boasts the largest startup ecosystem in Europe, has successfully achieved this by taking deliberate and concrete action.

The immigration section of the government programme dilutes even the best ambitions

The proposed government program includes concerning provisions that have raised alarm among numerous specialized experts currently employed in Finland. Regrettably, there are already reports of skilled foreign workers residing in Finland contemplating their departure from the country.

Perhaps the most striking is the proposed provision requiring a migrant to leave the country have they not been offered a new employment within three months of being laid off. While anyone would certainly aspire to find employment as quickly as possible, this three month timeframe is remarkably short for finding a position matching one’s skills, going through the interview process and signing a new contract – especially during an economic downturn. Adopting such stringent conditions that would result in the departure of foreign talent, is not in Finland’s best interest. There is a real risk of inadvertently pushing out highly skilled professionals who have already made substantial tax contributions to Finland in previous years, only to have them redirect their tax obligations to other countries upon their departure. Denmark, frequently cited in relation to humanitarian immigration, follows suit with a corresponding six-month timeframe.

Moreover, there is an alarming proposal to increase the mandatory residency period for attaining a permanent residence permit in Finland from the existing four years to a proposed six-year duration. In addition to the other requirements already in place, one would have to demonstrate sufficient language skills to obtain a permanent residence permit. Highly skilled professionals predominantly operate in English, and a six-year waiting period for a permanent residence permit, particularly for individuals with families, is a considerable duration. These are individuals who have already made considerable tax contributions to the Finnish treasury.

Time to wake up! The Government must correct the provisions that undermine Finland’s attractiveness in recruiting foreign talent. Let us pave the way for our economy to flourish and transform Finland into the global epicenter for foreign talent and thriving businesses.On behalf of this matter,

Riikka Pakarinen, CEO, Finnish Startup Community

Ilkka Paananen, CEO, Supercell

Miki Kuusi, CEO, Wolt

Mikael Thuneberg, CEO, Supermetrics

Sami Marttinen, CEO, Swappie

Sammeli Sammalkorpi, CEO, Sievo

Antti Nivala, CEO, M-Files

Kalle Törmä, CEO, Flowhaven

Oskari Saarenmaa, CEO, Aiven

Rafal Modrzewski, CEO, ICEYE

Kristo Ovaska, Founder and Board Member, Smartly

Mika Tammenkoski, CEO, Metacore

Matti Räty, Vice President, Engineering UnityAds EMEA

Chris Thür, CEO, Yousician

Juha Vartiainen, Co-founder and COO, IQM

Mikko Kärkkäinen, CEO, RELEX Solutions

Katri Junna, CEO, Netlight Consulting

Simo Leisti, Group CEO, Futurice

Sampo Pasanen, CEO, Reaktor

Ossi Lindroos, President and CEO, Solita

Mikael Nylund, CEO, Gofore

Julius Manni, CEO, Vincit

Tomi Pienimäki, CEO, Siili Solutions

Olli Auvinen, CEO, Nitor

Mikko Hämäläinen, CEO, Druid

Tatu Kuivalahti, CEO, Custobar

Jari Still, Chair of the Board, SW4E

The article has been updated on 16.8.2023.