EMN National Seminar 13th of October - Using migration policy to support the attraction of foreign investors and highly-qualified persons to Finland
Summary and presentations
The topic of the seminar was chosen on the basis of the recent EMN-studies on labour migration ("Attracting highly-qualified third-country nationals", "Admitting third-country nationals for business purposes" and "Determining labour shortages and the need for labour migration") as well as the European Agenda on Migration and the Finnish government programme, which puts emphasis on boosting employment and competitiveness.
The seminar attracted an audience of over 120 to the auditorium of Hotel Presidentti in central Helsinki.
After the welcome by National Coordinator Ms. Kielo Brewis, the first presentation of the day was held by Ms. Katri Niskanen, who works as a national expert at DG Home in the EU Commission. She presented the European Agenda for Migration and the view of the EU Commission regarding the immigration of highly-qualified third-country nationals.
Next in line was the Finnish government perspective presented by Ms. Päivi Nerg, who is the chief of staff at the Ministry of the Interior. She gave a broad overview of current issues regarding migration in Finland. She emphasized that Finland is currently experiencing a never before seen influx of asylum seekers, with over 20 000 having sought asylum in Finland by mid-October. Even though this is the acute situation, she pointed out that it is important to also consider other aspects of immigration, as well as efficient integration policies. This will be important for the Finnish economy in the long-term, as the demographic outlook clearly showed.
Mr. Juhana Vartiainen, who is an economist as well as a Member of Parliament, talked about the macro-economic perspective on migration and Finland. He argued that the immigration of people of working age is an important factor in a country like Finland, where the working age population is declining. In the other Nordic countries, immigrants account for a significant amount of the increase in employment. Finland should strive to achieve the same by means of well managed and coordinated migration, integration, employment and labour market policies. The key is to be able to tap in the employment potential of immigrants quickly and efficiently, otherwise the immigrants will be a burden to the public finances instead of contributing to them.
After the coffee break attention centered on the key note speaker, Mr. Matt Hoskin from Immigration New Zealand. New Zealand has taken a very proactive approach in attracting investments, investors and highly-qualified immigrants, and sees immigration as a largely economic activity that attracts international talent and investors with the skills, capital, commercial expertise and international networks that can help grow the economy. Immigration New Zealand (INZ), which is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – this is, in itself recognition of the economic value of targeted migration policies – has for the last five years focused on moving beyond simply issuing visas to a focus on supporting firms to attract and integrate talent, as well as working across government and with business to target and attract high net worth investors who can bring global markets closer to New Zealand.
After lunch, Ms. Carmen Blanco presented the Spanish policy on the immigration of highly qualified persons. The economic recession prompted Spain to make changes to its immigration policy in order to boost competitiveness. The changes simplified the immigration procedures for highly-qualified persons by being employer and demand driven, providing fast track procedures and exempting highly-qualified persons from the labour market test. Spain also created a visa for starting up businesses. The changes have been very effective, resulting in increased business activity and new jobs being created. It has also changed the immigration image of Spain, which was previously known for immigration of low-skilled and even irregular immigration from Africa.
Next up was Ms. Helina Maasing from our southern neighboring country. In her presentation, she told that Estonia has made the welcoming of international talent a key priority in its policies on immigration. These include residence permit categories for top specialists as well as immigrant business owners, and efficient and targeted information campaigns on what Estonia has to offer for highly-qualified immigrants. Estonia is also the first country in the world to offer e-Residency, which is a secure digital identity, which for instance enables the running of a location independent international business online. It gives e-residents the possibility to access digital services which so far have been available only for Estonians, e.g. secure digital authentication and digital signing of documents. Target groups are foreign investors, shareholders in Estonian companies, employees and family members, foreign scientists and students etc.
Ms. Pia Pakarinen from the Helsinki Chamber of Commerce and Ms. Anu Riila from the City of Helsinki presented a joint public-private-third sector effort in order to integrate skilled immigrants into working life. At its center is the metropolitan area of Helsinki, together with the cities of Espoo and Vantaa, the employment administration, the central organization of Finnish trade unions, immigrant organizations and the Helsinki region chamber of commerce. The joint effort will focus on providing information, counselling, mentoring and trainee programmes for highly-qualified immigrants.
A panel discussion on the topic of the seminar rounded of the day. Mr. Nicklas Wancke, a journalist from YLE, was the moderator of a panel of 8 experts (please consult the programme for the discussants). A general consensus among the participants in the discussion was found in the fact that Finland should do more to promote itself as a destination for foreign talent and investments. Even though it is currently difficult to talk about the attraction of immigrants, with a large number of unemployed in Finland, it should be important to look beyond the current situation and think about what Finland has to offer to talented immigrants, and what Finland wants to achieve in the long-term. Many other countries have been more active than Finland in gearing their policies towards highly-qualified immigration and the attraction of investors and investments. A word that was repeated many times in the discussion was attitude. Attitudes in the Finnish society on the whole are not favorable towards immigration and immigrants. This is one of the main issues, that has to be addressed before any strategies and policies can be effective. Another point, which was brought to the fore, was the need for improved cooperation between the actors in the administration, the private sector as well as the third sector.
Please find the presentations held at the seminar below
- Katri Niskanen, EU Commission (in Finnish)
- Päivi Nerg, Ministry of the Interior (in Finnish)
- Juhana Vartiainen, Finnish Parliament (in Finnish)
- Matt Hoskin, Immigration New Zealand
- Carmen Blanco, EMN Spain
- Helina Maasing, EMN Estonia
- Pia Pakarinen and Anu Riila Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce and City of Helsinki