New international talent funding for companies

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Business Finland is introducing new funding to encourage companies to recruit international professionals. The funding model can be used in a variety of ways to meet the varying needs of businesses.

Businesses large and small should be on the lookout as Business Finland is launching its new Talent funding in 2023.

“The goal is to support and encourage local businesses in recruiting international talent,” explains Business Finland’s Service Manager Minh Lam during a business breakfast event organised by Turku Science Park. The audience consists of representatives of partner companies taking part in the UNICOM project, a collaboration between the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi and Turku Science Park. The aim of the project is to bring together local companies and highly qualified international experts.

Minh Lam, member of Business Finland’s Work in Finland unit, presents convincing figures on how Finland needs more labour not only to maintain the functions of society, but also to increase exports. In the IT sector, for example, there is a glaring shortage of talent. According to calculations by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, there was a workforce shortage of 65,000 jobs in Finland in 2019.

International growth requires international expertise—the kind that settles down permanently.

“The aim is for the funding to have a far-reaching impact and to have the international talent studying in Finland decide to stay here,” Minh Lam says.

Reimagining company processes

In addition to filling labour shortages, there are many other reasons for companies to go international. Studies by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment show that diverse companies and work communities are more innovative and productive as they bring together a wide range of expertise.

“Internationalisation also opens up new target markets,” Minh Lam points out.

There are still some questions about the best practices for companies to become more international. During the breakfast event, company representatives discussed the challenges in recruitment processes: recruitment is costly and time-consuming, and there is rarely enough time for thorough plans on internationalisation strategies.

The coronavirus crisis has also introduced new uncertainties, for example in relation to business exports.

Minh Lam recognises the practical challenges companies face on a day-to-day basis. The Talent funding model, which replaces the previous Talent Explorer model, aims to streamline and speed up the process of international recruiting.

“The new model will be broader and more flexible than before. The funding for companies will range from €40,000 to €100,000 and it can be spread across 6 to 12 months.”

It will also be possible to apply for funding more frequently, rather than on a one-off basis. A company can receive a total of €200,000 over the course of three years.

In general, funding will be granted to companies employing at least ten people, but the model is not strict.

“It is perfectly suitable for smaller start-ups as well,” says Minh Lam.

For example, the funding can be used to hire people who are doing their post-graduate studies or are already in the workforce. The company can consider whether to use the funding to hire more people or whether some of the funding should be allocated to the salary of a person already working for the company.

One issue highlighted during the breakfast event concerns the common working language used in companies. If the company has a history of using only Finnish for all communication, from websites to other material, it will be quite a task to translate everything into English in the future.

Business Finland does not provide support for translation work directly, but it is possible to include such costs in the broader development of the company’s operations. In the application the company can, for example, illustrate how the whole company’s operating culture will be made more international.

Finland is competitive, but there is still work to be done

Other Nordic countries, Estonia, and Germany, among others, are competing for the same international talents as Finland. According to Minh Lam, Finland’s advantages in this competition include high quality healthcare and education, a safe society, and clean nature. Once a person finds a place to work, there is a wide network of services and initiatives that help the whole family settle down and feel welcome: these include employer-sponsored language courses and spouse programmes.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has set ambitious targets for the employment of people with a foreign background. Business Finland’s Talent Boost service package and Talent funding are crucial in achieving these goals.

“By working together on this joint effort, we are looking to secure employment for up to 50,000 people,” Minh Lam sums up.

Original text: Heidi Horila
Translation: Turku Business Region

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