We solve: Knowledge and skills for the employment of international students in the Satakunta region
According to population projections, the number of 18–24-year-olds in the Satakunta region will drop by more than a fifth over the next 20 years. At the same time, the number of working-age people will decrease significantly, so new ways for training and employing workforce need to be found. Currently, skilled international workforce tends to move from Satakunta to other parts of Finland or abroad, as they find it difficult to get employed in the region. Satakunta University of Applied Sciences aims to strengthen the employment of international degree students, both through its own activities and in cooperation with other actors in the region.
According to a survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce among its member companies in September 2021, nearly 75% of Finnish companies are experiencing a shortage of skilled workforce. As many as 68% of respondents estimated at that time that the shortage of skilled workforce had limited their growth and business.
How is the role of international workforce seen in Satakunta? According to a survey commissioned by the Satakunta Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) in 2023, around half of the companies in Satakunta are considering international workforce as a solution to the skills shortage. Three out of five companies have experience of using international workforce and four out of five could be prepared to recruit international talents in the future.
Lack of experience raises the threshold for recruiting international workforce
However, despite the interest that the companies have, their capacity to recruit international workforce varies significantly – so far, only a small proportion of companies feel they are well prepared to recruit foreign employees. Jaana Sävel's thesis (2022) outlined that companies in Satakunta are interested in tailoring jobs to suit international students, but most lack the skills or time to do so. Employers' recruitment skills also need support, as inexperience in recruiting international workforce can raise the threshold so high that the company is not willing to try to recruit a foreign worker.
According to interviews conducted by Jaana Sävel in her thesis, the job search skills of international students at SAMK are rather good on the general level, but it is challenging for them to present their own skills in an efficient way and to take into account the characteristics of the Finnish working culture or the requirements set for the job seeker. It is also problematic for international graduates to find vacancies, as recruitment websites are often only presented in Finnish.
Skills for both employers and jobseekers
The aim of SAMK – together with other actors working on the subject – is to strengthen the employment of international experts in Satakunta in the coming years. Ongoing projects at SAMK include promoting work placement opportunities for international students in the health and social services sector, providing training in logistics and shipping for Ukrainians living in Satakunta and strengthening the job search skills of international degree students.
The main objective of the two-year Should I stay or should I go project is to strengthen the job search skills of SAMK's international degree students and their readiness to enter the Finnish working culture, as well as to promote the recruitment skills of companies in Satakunta region so that the threshold for international recruitment is lowered, despite possible language challenges.
In addition to guidance and coaching activities, the aim is to bring the parties closer together through the YourAgent.fi service, a joint service for employers and jobseekers, aimed at companies in the Satakunta region looking for workforce, and international students looking for a job or traineeship. In the future, the online service could be extended to cover, for example, the needs of vocational secondary education, thus serving the Satakunta region more widely.
Aiming at the integration of international experts in the Satakunta region
SAMK's marketing and guidance measures aim to encourage more international graduates to stay in Satakunta after graduation through better employment. When international students integrate into the region's businesses and communities already during their studies, it is easier for them to settle in the region. In this way, companies in Satakunta will have access to the skilled workforce they need – workforce with an understanding of Finnish working conditions, but also with international skills. Companies will also have a better chance of growing and staying in the region if they can find a sufficient supply of skilled workforce.
To achieve these goals and to improve the availability of skilled workforce, close cooperation between the region's companies, higher education institutions and vocational training institutions, development organizations and experts working on international workforce potential is essential. Creating sustainable growth, promoting the availability of workforce, and increasing the region's grip power will only succeed with a joint effort.
Did you know?
- In the academic year 2022-2023, SAMK offers eight international degree programs taught in English.
- A total of 536 international students study in SAMK's international degree programs in 2022-2023.
- In the future, SAMK will play a significant role in providing skilled and trained international workforce for the needs of the region.