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Home BUSINESSLabour market impact by refugees debated in Finland
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Thu, 08 Oct, 2015 12:22:06 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Oct 8

A debate has erupted in Finland about the impact of the ongoing influx of refugees on the country's labor market. A poll commissioned by the national broadcaster Yle indicated that half of the population believes most of those given asylum status in Finland would not find a job and would live their lives on social security benefits.

     Statistician Pekka Myrskyla told national broadcaster Yle it was too early to give such assessments as it is not known how many of the current applicants eventually will be allowed to remain in Finland. He underlined that the Finnish private sector has shown willingness to hire immigrants. "Over half of the cleaners are of foreign origin," he noted.

     Myrskyla said that during the past decade the growth in jobs has mainly concentrated on such low wage employment that attracts newcomers. Myrskyla was one of the compilers of a pro immigration labor force estimate earlier this year.

     Maryan Askar, a project chief dealing with immigrant youngsters told Yle that immigrants are underestimated and accordingly often end up working as janitors. Yle interviewed an Iraqi man who arrived in Finland six years ago. In Iraq he had worked as a linguistics professor but is now being trained as a primary school pupils' assistant.


Meanwhile the leading trade union SAK warned against the creation of a dual labor market in Finland. SAK underlined that asylum-based residents must enjoy the same labor rights as others in Finland. The union organization demanded that more public funding should be given to employment and adaptation services directed to newcomers.

     Experts have said the possibilities for employment in Finland for newcomers are not worse than in comparable countries. But the difference is appreciable with some countries in Southern Europe where working black is common particularly in service and household sectors.

     In Finland, all employment is reported to tax authorities, wages are paid to bank accounts and the payments of social security over heads are strictly enforced. Employment as household maids is practically nonexistent in Finland.

     The employment level amongst immigrants in Finland varies hugely depending on original nationality. Freshest statistics say 46 percent of those coming from refugee countries get unemployment benefits. Currently most arrivals are from Iraq. Based on 2013 statistics, 74 percent of the then 6,300-strong Iraqi population in Finland was out of work.

     Some migrant nationalities have done better than the mainstream population. While the percentage of employment of all Finnish residents was 45 in 2010, immigrants from Kenya had 68 percent employment and those from Nigeria 59 percent.

     Immigrants use more social security benefits than the standard Finns. In 2011, the first-generation arrivals amounted to 3.6 percent of the population but they consumed 5 percent of the social security spending. The average annual sum was 6,500 euros (7,321 U.S. dollars), while the benefits used by a standard Finn were 2,500 euros without pensions.


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