Finland’s demographic challenges and opportunities

Finland is a society that is facing drastic demographic changes due to the constantly growing number of the elderly and the extremely low fertility rate. The pension and the healthcare systems have to deal with a large inflow of senior citizens and all this is spurred on by the gradual increase in the life expectancy.

Finland’s demographic challenges and opportunities

 

 

Finland is a society that is facing drastic demographic changes due to the constantly growing number of the elderly and the extremely low fertility rate (Figure 1). 

The pension and the healthcare systems have to deal with a large inflow of senior citizens and all this is spurred on by the gradual increase in the life expectancy.

Immigration and foreign labor, despite being relatively low compared to many other European wealthy nations, is among the strategies by which the Finnish government is trying to maintain its productive labor force (Figure 2). Recently, Finland’s ministry of Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment together with the Ministry of Education and Culture commissioned the economics research institution PTT to conduct a thorough analysis of the changes the Finnish economy and society will be facing in the decades to come [2].

 

Figure 1. Number of persons aged 70 or over in Finland in 1970 to 2019 [1].

The report emphasizes that there is no substitution to the growing need for foreign professionals coming to work in Finland. This will be mostly needed in the service sector, healthcare and manual work as well as highly technological and scientific fields. Many professions require at least some basic knowledge of

Finnish and that is why we encourage anyone who considers relocating to Finland to do so through obtaining an officially recognized degree. This allows the students to learn the language alongside the studies of their chosen profession and gives the students confidence and understanding of the Finnish labor market and its requirements and codes of practice. 

Figure 2. Change in the population by native language in 1981 to 2019 [1].

 

Of course, this does not necessarily means that working in Finland requires one to learn Finnish, but it does open up many avenues for professional development and networking.

We also encourage anyone interested in sustainable and environmental development to consider Finland as one of the most attractive destinations due to the country’s long history in implementing sustainability solutions as well as the general EU approach for each member state to reach outcomes that allow us to decrease our pollution and carbon emission levels. Finland is constantly increasing its share of renewable energy in electricity and energy [3] production but environment-oriented solutions are also being developed in the manufacturing and service sectors.

 

For example, even the fashion industry is now looking for solutions that keep the environmental load to a minimum and Finnish businesses put much effort into continuing their research and investment to create a better and cleaner world for all of us [4].

We, at TwoNorths, will take care of the formalities of the application process and provide our expertise to help you stay motivated, so that you can focus on the essential – getting your education and building your career in a country that welcomes talented and hard-working people.

Sources:

[1] http://tilastokeskus.fi/til/vaerak/2019/vaerak_2019_2020-03-24_tie_001_en.html

[2] Olli-Pekka Ruuskanen, Heini Lehtosalo, Kimmo Mäkilä, Juuso Heinämäki, Juha Honkatukia, 2021 PTT

raportteja 269. Millaista osaamista Suomi tarvitsee vuonna 2040? https://www.ptt.fi/julkaisut-ja-

hankkeet/kaikki-julkaisut/millaista-osaamista-suomi-tarvitsee-vuonna-2040.html

[3] https://ourworldindata.org/electricity-mix

[4] https://www.reuters.com/article/innovation-textiles-finland-idUSL8N2KS121

International student experience in Finland-2

I came to Finland from Italy to attend my doctoral studies in philosophy in 2016. My research focuses on political and social philosophy as well as the study of critical sociology. My road to my PhD research in Finland started with me meeting my supervisor at a conference/work shop in Italy. That’s how I found out that there is huge academic activity here in Finland regarding the topic I was interested in and I also learned that getting funded here was easier for that specific philosophical field. After meeting Arto (Corrado’s supervisor), I tried to find more information regarding the Finnish university system and the Finnish funding system.

 

After living in Finland nearly 5 years, I’ve learned that the academic life here gives your good opportunities at every level.

Corrado Piroddi

 I found out that the hybrid system, in which you have not only the funding provided by the university as a job position but also funding provided by private foundations, seems more efficient than the Italian system that is based, on the contrary, on university funding. The distribution of research funding is more favorable here if we consider that not only STEM research gets the lion’s share of the money available but research in humanities also gets proper attention and it is well-funded, at least compared to Italy.

I have been here for four years and I have realized that, in my opinion, the social and public sphere is still well functioning according to some social democratic principles. I would say that the system of benefits and public support to citizens as well as foreign students and workers is more efficient and effective compared to my home country. While living here, I have noticed that a person with my type of academic and professional profile still has a large set of opportunities in terms of academic work after their doctoral studies. I think that here in Finland, it is still possible to build up an academic career, e.g. post-doc research. Since staying in the academia was my original plan, I had been thinking of continuing my academic career elsewhere but I have come to realize that it is possible to do it here. After living in Finland nearly 5 years, I’ve learned that the academic life here gives your good opportunities at every level.


I recommend other foreign students get plentiful information regarding bureaucratic issues and functioning of the Finnish welfare and academic systems in terms of student or unemployment benefits and the funding within the academic system. I would also emphasize that the academic system here is less formal; it is less “traditional”. Here, teaching remotely and the use of technology in order to support your education is very common and efficient, so the students have to be ready that the teaching style could be very different from where they come from. Here, it is goal-oriented and more pragmatic.

International Student Experience in Finland

many international students have the mindset of “well, I’m moving to a new
country – will I get a job as soon as I move there?” But that’s not the thing you are coming here for
as your original purpose, you are coming here for your studies and I advise you to give the best
you can to your studies during the first period of your life here and focus on that and then you
will understand the system and how to balance your studies with a possible job etc

Irin Rony - Master’s student at the University of Jyväskylä

Irin, where do you come from and what is your educational background in your home country?


I come from Bangladesh where I did my Bachelor’s in Agrotechnology with a major in Plant Pathology. I also did a Master’s in Plant Pathology before applying for my studies here. Now I’m doing my Master’s in Biology and Environmental Science with a major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


How did you find out about your current degree program and the possibility to study in Finland in general?


Actually, I was searching for different universities abroad on my own as well as got to know about the possibilities to study here because of a friend of mine who had studied here himself. Then I just looked for what kind of degree programs I could apply for here and was a bit worried that there were no study programs closely related to what I had studied before. Fortunately, I found out later that I can select almost any kind of program I want and I decided to go for Biology and Environmental Science at JYU.


What do you mean by “selecting almost any kind of program”?


Well, here it doesn’t need to be very similar to your previous studies as long as the general field is more or less related. That is why I was a bit confused, for example, between which major to choose between Sustainable Management of Inland Aquatic Resources and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, so I just decided to go with the latter one. When I compare this system to the system back home, the path taken can be much broader in the sense that you can change the direction of your professional path quite a lot after completing your Bachelor’s.


Okay, so when you say that you were looking at different universities and possibilities before coming here, were you looking everywhere or did you start with some specifics in mind, such as the Nordic countries, for example?


I had selected three countries – Canada, Denmark and Finland. I decided to leave out Canada for certain reasons and then started looking for scholarships. That was one of the main considerations as the tuition fees seemed quite high. At last, I ended up applying only for Finland as there were also some visa restrictions and immigration difficulties between Denmark and Bangladesh.
You have been here for a couple of years already, what are some positive aspects about studying here?
This is a quite student-oriented study system, which allows for independent learning. If you are here to do your best study-wise, the teachers are supportive and your strong interest in some area is often much more important than the previous experience.


How about some aspects about living here?

Living here is very secure when compared to my home country. Regular citizens here, even outsiders, don’t face racism or anything like that, so it’s better for me.

Do you already have some plans for after you graduate from here?

Yes, as I’m working on my thesis right now, its title is “Are Patterns of Parasitic Infections Influenced by Host Heterozygosity?” I have two alternatives in my mind – I can continue with a PhD here in my university or try to go somewhere else to continue my academic career. I feel like I have gained enough knowledge and skills here to feel confident in that respect.

So you would like to stay in the academia after your graduation?

Yes. Also, I have something else in mind. I like administrative work and at this point I’m considering if I should choose one over the other or find a way to combine them. Obviously, I would like to stay in my professional field.

What would you recommend to other international students before coming here?

Hmm…That’s a tricky one.
For example, something that you think would have made your life easier by studying or researching before coming here?
Okay, in my study area, it is very useful to have at least the knowledge of wet-lab work. What you read in a book is very general and theoretical. There are some steps and precautions that we all learn to take but proper hands-on experience helps immensely. I know many people here who come from countries where writing a Bachelor’s thesis is not required for getting the diploma. This is one of the worst things, I guess, I can think of in terms of my studies.

Students come here from different countries, different circumstances and they come for different educational goals. What are some things they could prepare for when it comes to moving to Finland and living here?

Yeah, I know that many international students have the mindset of “well, I’m moving to a new country – will I get a job as soon as I move there?” But that’s not the thing you are coming here for as your original purpose, you are coming here for your studies and I advise you to give the best you can to your studies during the first period of your life here and focus on that and then you will understand the system and how to balance your studies with a possible job etc. Also, students come from completely different environments and have expectations about what the university should provide but my opinion is that you should research how the study system works, its flexibility and keep an open mind without worrying about getting a job immediately and give yourself some time to settle down and figure out how this system works. Your first months and your first semester here are very crucial. Many students that come here don’t have the habit to constantly read scientific articles, textbooks etc. to supplement the required tasks at the university but this is how things are done here. You have to get accustomed to rely not only on your teachers’ notes but develop a habit to study on your own as well.

Employment of recent graduates continued to increase

University graduates were most successful in gaining employment, close on 90 per cent of them were working at the end of 2018. Altogether 69 per cent of attainers of basic vocational education qualifications, 84 per cent of attainers of vocational qualifications and 95 per cent of attainers of specialist vocational qualifications were employed

According to Statistics Finland’s education statistics, employment of recent graduates improved further. University graduates were most successful in gaining employment, close on 90 per cent of them were working at the end of 2018. Altogether 69 per cent of attainers of basic vocational education qualifications, 84 per cent of attainers of vocational qualifications and 95 per cent of attainers of specialist vocational qualifications were employed

Altogether 10 per cent of recently graduated women and 17 per cent of men who had attained initial vocational qualifications were unemployed

The employment of both recently graduated women and men improved by two percentage points compared to the previous year. In all, 76 per cent of all recently graduated women and 67 per cent of men were working.
 
Of those with initial vocational qualifications, 69 per cent were employed, 75 per cent of women and 62 per cent of men. In all, 14 per cent were unemployed, 10 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men. Altogether 16 per cent continued studying after completing initial qualifications, slightly over one-half did so besides work. In all, 13 per cent of men belonged to the group “other”, which includes, for example, non-military service and military service. Eighty-four per cent of attainers of vocational qualifications and 95 per cent of attainers of specialist vocational qualifications were working.
 
The employment of those with a university degree had also improved. Eighty-nine per cent of those with university of applied sciences degrees and 88 per cent of those with higher university degrees were employed one year after graduation. Women and men with university degrees found employment equally easily. Five per cent of both those with university of applied sciences degrees and those with higher university degrees were unemployed. Ninety-five per cent, as many women as men, of those with a higher university of applied sciences degree were working one year after graduation and three per cent were unemployed. Of recently graduated doctors, 86 per cent were working, 88 per cent of women and 84 per cent of men. Four per cent of them were unemployed.
There were differences in the transition to working life by field of education.
 
Employment improved most in the field of natural sciences, by three percentage points. Altogether 70 per cent of those who graduated from the field of natural sciences were employed. The transition was easiest for graduates with qualifications from the female-dominated field of health and welfare, in which 88 per cent of graduates were employed. Employment was second best in the field of business, administration and law, 81 per cent of graduates. Unemployment was highest, 14 per cent, among those with qualifications in the field of information and communication technology (ICT).