How much do Finnish language skills influence when searching for a job in Finland?

While some people believe that speaking Finnish is a significant advantage, others think that the culture is changing, and each time there is more and more possibility of getting a job just knowing English.

This blog post will check out some statistics about the labor market for international employees and the companies' working language.


What happens with international just graduated students one year after graduation?

  • According to a statistical review done by the Finnish Board of Education (Opetushallistus, 2019), less than 50% of the international students work full time.
  • Around 25 % leave Finland.
  • The rest continues studying, works part-time, or is unemployed.

It is clear from the data that international students have difficulties finding work in Finland and are forced to leave the country. This research has shown that Finland cannot retain a quarter of the students, and likewise, another quarter has an unstable situation one year after graduating. On the other hand, the research cannot describe why students leave the country.


Why is it so difficult for foreigners to get a job in Finland?, Blaming the language

Research about the international labor force in Finland done by the employment agency Barona at the end of 2021 analyzes, among others, what is the labor situation in companies regarding their working language. The results are based on six questions and were answered by 505 employers.


What are the official working languages in the company?

  • A 96% of the companies answered that Finnish is their official language, 41% answered English, 15% Swedish, and 4% other. The result considers that one company can have more than one official language.

Even though a significant percentage of Finnish people can fluently communicate in English, from this data is possible to deduct that less than half of the companies are willing to use it as their business language.


Can an employee work in English in the company?

  • 62% of the companies claim that their employees can work in English, while 38% said they can’t.

Working in English is not forbidden in a significant percentage of the companies, even though it seems that keeping Finnish as the official language is quite important. This data shows that some companies might have a hybrid working language.


Have you had or do you currently have international employees?

  • Currently, just 39% of the companies have international employees, 17% have had in the past, and 50% don’t.

Having half of the companies never hired an international talent is not a coincidence, but can we attribute this only to the lack of Finnish language on the part of foreigners?


If you answered no, have there been discussions about hiring international employees?

  • 23% of the companies have considered the possibilities of hiring international employees.
  • 77% of the companies haven’t even talked about the subject.


If you answered yes, have you recruited from Finland or abroad?

  • 51% of the companies have hired people already living in Finland, 8% have hired people from abroad, 28% have recruited from Finland and abroad, and 13% were unsure about the hiring process.


Main difficulty/ obstacle in hiring international employees?

This question analyzed five possible obstacles; Language difficulties, Legislation and permits, Quality of the employment agencies, other cultural challenges, and the attitudes and resistance of the current employees. Each employer scored from 1 to 4. “Unsure” was also accepted as an answer.

As we can see, the results of this study intend to demonstrate a particular inclination towards the lack of the Finnish language as the main obstacle when hiring international employees. Even though it is also possible to note that language is not the only concern when thinking about international employees.

Whatever the reason is, we have noticed that employees with great potential constantly emigrate from Finland and this is a shame because many companies could be extremely benefited by those talents.

Join us on the 4th of April in the TAMK’s international week, a hybrid event dubbed Eye on Tampere in which experts and stakeholders shall discuss about learning, staying and working in Tampere.