Startup Refugees projects in Northern Finland


In 2019, Startup Refugees received two types of project funding from the European Social Fund to support the employment and entrepreneurship of newcomers in the northern parts of Finland. Projects are coordinated by the Startup Refugees Oulu office. Here is a brief introduction to both projects.

Generation Work – Oulu

Generation Work supports students with an immigrant background to get part-time employment opportunities in Finnish companies. Startup Refugees has noticed that students with a migrant background have considerably fewer opportunities to get hired to part-time jobs or summer jobs in Finnish companies than native Finnish students. Many companies in Oulu, especially in the field of customer service, admit that they do not have many or any employees with a migrant background. Their recruitment policies emphasize the ability to present oneself well on paper: on a written resume and online applications. Often, a student with a migrant background – regardless of their ability to speak Finnish fluently – will be dropped off the recruitment process. This is due to the preconception that their language skills are not sufficient if these are not well presented on a CV.

However, young immigrants have a lot to offer to the Finnish labor market due to their versatile language skills and previous work experience. Many young adults have been working in their country of origin since they were very young: at construction sites, markets, butchers’ shops, car repair shops, restaurants, etc. In sum, immigrant youth often have far more work experience than their Finnish peers.

Despite the facts above, the unemployment rate of immigrants is 2.5 times that of Finns and the numbers are not seen to improve in the near future – not unless we start making long-term changes in our employment system.

Young people need opportunities, references from Finnish employers and work experience to fill in their curriculum vitae. If people get opportunities when they are young, they have better chances to be employed after they complete their studies.

Lapland of Opportunity – Rovaniemi

Lapland of Opportunity promotes the development of the tourism industry and the availability of workforce in the Lapland area by bringing the expertise and know-how of immigrants as one solution to the challenges of employment.

The tourism industry is suffering from a heavy labor shortage. At the same time in Lapland and elsewhere in Finland, immigrants with valuable skills for the tourism sector find themselves unemployed. Efforts have been made to address the challenge through several different projects, using various measures and various channels.
Promoting the employment of people with an immigrant background in the tourism sector will also support the vitality of Lapland and the development of tourism by bringing new committed workforce to the region.

The aims of the project are to:

  • Establish a socially responsible tourism business network in Lapland to support the employment of immigrants.
    implement the fast employment model created by the Startup Refugees network as a solution to the labor shortage in the Lapland region.
  • Support and encourage employers to recruit immigrants, and encourage and support immigrants in applying for work in the tourism industry.
  • Change the attitudes of companies towards the employment of immigrants by publishing success stories about employment and entrepreneurship through high-quality video material.

The project is executed in collaboration with The Lapland University of Applied Sciences, The University of Lapland and Startup Refugees.

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