Working in Finland
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Having been previously cautious about recruiting foreigners, the Finnish government is now welcoming people from abroad to fill the gaps in the labour market, created as the baby-boomer generation retires. Opportunities are arising in a number of sectors but particularly in the healthcare and service industries.
The ability to speak Finnish is a must though so you will need to get a good grasp of the language before you apply.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: electronics, metal, wood and paper industries, agriculture and forestry, engineering and manufacturing, chemicals.
- Recent growth areas: the private services sector.
- Industries in decline: manufacturing.
- Shortage occupations: healthcare and social work as well as services that support public and business life. Graduates with experience in engineering, IT and electronics are also needed.
- Major companies: Kesko (retail), Pöyry (global consulting and engineering), Neste Oil, Nokia, Outokumpu (stainless steel), Sampo (insurance), S Group (retail), Finnair (aviation), Stora Enso (forest industry), L'Oréal (cosmetic), UPM-Kymmene (forest industry).
What’s it like working in Finland?
- Average working hours: 40 per week.
- Holidays: 24 days per year, rising to 30 after one year’s continuous employment with an employer.
- Tax rates: If you are working in Finland for less than 6 months and are working for a foreign company you do not have to pay tax in Finland. Instead you will submit a tax return form in your own country and pay taxes there. If you are working in Finland for more than 6 months you will have to pay tax on your salary, regardless of whether you are working for a Finnish or foreign company. The current rate is on a rising scale between 6.5% and 31.75% depending on the salary bracket you fall within. A percentage of your salary is also deducted for social security, unless you are insured outside of Finland and can provide an E101 card. Don't forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
It’s a good idea to start looking for employment before you move to Finland, although it’s not vital to do so. International jobseekers are able to register with the Employment and Economic Development Office (TE Office) which offers advice on getting a job and help with applications. A registration form can be completed online.
Job applications in Finland are usually made by CV, which should always be sent with a covering letter. Application forms are becoming more popular (including online applications), especially with larger companies. Applications can also be made through the TE Office and CVs can be posted on their CV-net service, although this is only available in Finnish or Swedish.
A Finnish CV is similar to a UK one. Eurograduate – the European Graduate Career Guide has a working abroad section that gives information on CVs and the application process in Finland.
Get more applications and CV advice.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), UK qualifications are usually recognised by an employer.
- VMP-Group – recruitment services.
- Helsingin Sanomat (international edition) – on Sundays.
- Helsinki Times – online and in English.
- Details of Finnish newspapers are available at onlinenewspapers.com or via the BBC Country Profile – Finland.
- Employment and Economic Development Office (TE Office) – details of job vacancies in Finnish. It also has contact details of the employment offices in Finland.
- Infopankki – residency information, nationwide and regional-based information, linking to job sites, newspapers and other sources of vacancies.
- New entrepreneurs are needed in many sectors, both for the ageing population and the developing industry. Details about business and entrepreneurship may be found at Ministry of Employment and the Economy Finland and Enterprise Finland.
Getting work experience
Work placements and internships
The Finnish National Agency for Education (the newly merged Finnish National Board of Education and the Centre for International Mobility, CIMO) organises and administers many of the scholarship, exchange and practical training programmes available in Finland. This includes their own trainee programmes as well as ones offered in trade centres, cultural institutes, international organisations and the civil service.
Traineeships are open to international graduates as well as students who have completed at least one year of university study. They are most common during the summer months, but may also take place at other times of the year. The minimum training period is one month and the maximum is 18 months. See Study in Finland for further information.
Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020 and covers student exchange, work experience and volunteering opportunities. Both under and postgraduate students can study abroad for 3 to 12 months. Erasmus+ also provides opportunities for work experience students to learn new skills or languages, as well as volunteering in different countries for between 2 weeks and 12 months.
The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) arranges about 200 exchanges a year with other IAESTE countries. It’s used by students wishing to obtain technical experience abroad. The majority of the exchanges take place between May and September and last between eight to twelve weeks. Applications are made through the IAESTE office in the student’s home country.
For graduates interested in teaching English, there are opportunities in private schools and kindergartens, folk schools (institutions that provide adult education) and colleges. There is also the option of freelancing. Visit Keltaiset Sivut – Yellow Pages Finland to find organisations that run English language schools in Finland (use the search criteria: kieliopisto).
There are many opportunities for seasonal, summer work. Roles are available in the horticultural, agricultural, catering and tourism sectors. Part-time work is not as common in Finland as in other European countries.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
Gap year opportunities include administration or hospitality roles at hotels, ski resorts or even Santa Claus' Village in Lapland. Childcare and au pair opportunities with local families are also available. See One World 365 for more information.
The International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) programme operates in Finland and offers voluntary work in community service projects. The majority of projects last between six to twelve months. See the website for further information.
Do you need a visa?
Most EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit but citizens of non-EU countries may be required to have these documents.
If you plan to study or work in Finland for longer than three months, you should register your right of residence with the Finnish Immigration Service. See Infopankki for more information.
If you are from a non-EU country, applications may be made from your home country via the Finnish Immigration Service. If you are not a UK national, contact the Finnish embassy in the country where you are currently residing about how to obtain visas and work permits. If you are living in the UK, go to the British Embassy Finland.
You might also find it helpful to contact your ministry of foreign affairs (or your own embassy if you are not living in your home country) to ask whether there are any issues to be taken into account when considering working in Finland.
How do you become a permanent resident?
An EU citizen automatically has the right to permanent residency in Finland after living there for an uninterrupted period of five years. For further information, see the Finnish Immigration Service.
Living in Finland
- Cost of living: About the same as the UK. The Finnish standard of living is one of the highest in the world.
- Internet domain: .fi
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Health: The standard of healthcare in Finland is high. EU citizens who are temporarily in Finland should get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to be able to access the healthcare system. Those who are residing permanently in Finland, or who are employed in a job lasting more than four months, are within the scope of health insurance and are issued with a Kela card. This reimburses part of the cost of medication, private doctor’s fees and costs of tests and treatments.
- Type of government: Parliamentary democracy with a republican constitution.
- Laws and customs: The use, possession or dealing of drugs is against the law and carries heavy penalties. Visit the Finnish Police website for information.
- Emergency numbers: The emergency number, 112, is used for ambulances, the fire brigade, police and emergency social services.
- People: The majority of the population is Finnish (just over 93%), while almost 6% are Swedish.
- Major religion: Lutheran