Encouraging immigration of foreign workers is recommended by the regional daily Aamulehti (14 January 2001). The paper writes that growth sectors of the Finnish economy are suffering from a shortage of labour. To the oft-heard objection that in a country of high unemployment foreign workers would take away jobs from Finnish workers, Aamulehti responds by pointing out that these immigrants on the contrary would create more work for everybody.
The shortage of labour in the growth sectors slows down the economy, the paper notes. The problem is simply not going away, no matter how much re-education of labour is introduced. This being the case, it would be better to import labour instead of forcing companies to move abroad in search of workers, the paper concludes.
Aamulehti also notes that Finland's age structure is badly lopsided, the proportion of senior citizens being too high for the good of the economy. There is no domestic solution to the problem in sight. Who will take care of the ageing population and who will do the work required? How will the social care of the nation be financed? Aamulehti's conclusion is that without a blood transfusion Finland will wither.
The paper admits that Finns have a lot to learn in their attitudes to immigration. Finland is an odd island in ethnically rich Europe. The percentage of foreigners is the lowest in the European Union, only one per cent. Popular excuses are peripheral location and a difficult language. Aamulehti writes that there has, in fact, been a conscious political strategy to discourage immigration. The paper recommends a complete rethink of this policy.
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24 November 2000
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