The Finnish Sirius team (Quivine Ndomo, Ilona Bontenbal & Nathan Lillie at University of Jyväskylä) have published their new report presenting overall findings of the project’s three year activities and discussing the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the country migrant labour force.
Concerning the labour market integration of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, the Sirius Finnish team found that most integration challenges can be attributed to the underlying structure of the Finnish labour market. For instance, most employment opportunities demand high level of education qualifications, labour market skills, and/or Finnish language proficiency. However, the team questions how many of the demanded skills are necessary for performing the work and how many function as barriers, reflecting employers’ resistance to change, fear of the unknown and discrimination. High skill demands that also lean towards favouring natives effectively keep migrants out of employment. Furthermore, the report authors argue that if there is a serious desire to incorporate more migrant workers in the labour force, among other actions, the recognition of qualification policies will have to change significantly. Migrants coming to Finland tend to be highly educated and skilled. However, current bureaucratic and time-consuming skill recognition procedures preclude most migrants who end up re-educating themselves in Finland. This is futile in an era of globalisation and internationalisation of education, especially higher education. The skills that people bring with them should be better utilized. However, this cannot be achieved via minimum amendments to current skill and qualification recognition procedures (although on a short term these are also needed). It requires a paradigm shift, and it requires that we consider how skills should be de facto recognised, trusted and employed.
Concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, the Finnish Sirius team’s research unveils that the pandemic has underscored the potential of the MRAs as a spare flexible workforce, while at the same time spotlighting their precarious position as highly contingent community members and labour market participants. Learning from this experience, the Finnish government should consult MRAs regularly on emerging integration issues as well as to find ways to better use MRAs skills in order to ameliorate pending long-term unemployment crisis.
To report is available for download below this text.