The future of Finland: Is Migri here to facilitate immigration or block it?
This is the question that comes up repeatedly within international communities in Finland. Unfortunately, there is a common perception that Migri’s job is to keep people out of Finland. Numerous individuals and companies relying on Migri’s service have encountered the following obstacles: lengthy processing times, lacking appointment availability, limited physical locations to visit, high costs, frequent renewal times, and lack of transparency. All these have created frustration, angst, and uncertainty.
Let’s look into where Finland stands right now. We are a nation that:
- is fast approaching labor shortages with the tech field alone searching for +50,000 positions
- by 2030 our national workforce will shrink by 130,000 people
- has a rapidly ageing population with birth rates lower now than pre-war rates
- has exceptionally modest GDP growth, measuring lower than all our Nordic country neighbors
- is essentially an island with limited customer growth within our own borders. Driving international trade and globalism is one of the only ways to grow our economy
There are many discussions going on about branding and the attractiveness of Finland. We offer baby boxes and fancy campaigns, etc, but the truth of the matter is, glitz only goes so far. People need to LIVE here. For most of us, that means having a process that includes permission for our family to join us. For our spouses to have the right to work. For a student to not have to renew the permit yearly and for long time residents not to wait 6-9 months for decisions.
I would be keen to see the statistics, if there are any, about why people come to Finland. In my experience it is 1) for love, 2) for family ties, or 3) for education. I believe it is fair to say that we are not competitive with places such as LA, Singapore, Montreal, Dublin, etc. in attracting foreign talent. For highly mobile, skilled experts, Finland is not top of the list. We need to create something that makes us so special it prompts the question of why not Finland?
Why can’t we use Migri as a way to be the most attractive country in the Nordics or North Europe and the Nordics for foreign talent? If we could create a system that balanced security with speed and a deep understanding of the future market needs of the country, imagine what we could offer? A security-based system that is fast, friendly, humane, built for the customer, and affordable. What if Migri is a system created to drive integration and longevity?
This beautiful nation is clean, safe, and predictable. It is an amazing place to raise your children, to live and be in nature. It is full of opportunity, charm, and freedom. The power with which you hold, just by being you, is limitless. Do not let old, broken, heavy, biased processes and rules weaken your position.
We need each other. We foreigners need you to help us feel a part of something. We need to feel less lonely, that we have purpose, and are wanted. And you need us to keep your ‘something special’ going. We are much better together. The processes and attitudes at Migri should reflect the tone with which they want to be perceived. Being empathetic, friendly, and welcoming does not cost anything, but the value it gives is priceless.
In our recent #reformmigri discussion, we presented a series of known problems that many of our international community members have faced. We created a centralized list of issues and recommendations, split by procedural vs legislative change. After summer, we will publish this list to remind and challenge our colleagues at Migri for fast, meaningful, real change on all those items directly under their control. For items that need parliamentary discussion and resolution, we are pushing that side too. There is strength in numbers, we believe we can help build the momentum for change.
We feel that Migri is interested in change. We know that businesses and individuals are ready for change. Our goal now is to move the needle, substantially.
Why be mediocre when you can be great? The time is now to help shape a better future for everyone in Finland.
Kristina Sweet is the CEO of The Shortcut. She is a Canadian, living in Finland since 2009.