Government integration programme: immigrants need language skills, education and work
Immigrants integrate best into Finland if they know Finnish or Swedish, receive training and find work. Having hobbies, being active in organisations, and, for instance, in local politics, make integration into Finnish society easier.
Today, in adopting the first ever Government Integration Programme for 2012-2015, the Government decided to support precisely these integration routes for integrating immigrants.
'Finland still has excellent preconditions for preventing segregation between different population groups and the resulting conflicts. This requires not only strong intent and cooperation, but also sufficient resources for integration', emphasises Lauri Ihalainen, Minister of Labour, who led the related programme preparation.
In the current Government term, integration measures will be targeted at the employment of immigrants and at supporting immigrant children, young people, families and women. Practical measures include the development of language training, early childhood and basic education, and development of integration in basic services. Housing, physical exercise and cultural policy measures are also required, to ensure a smooth everyday life for everyone.
'For immigrants, work is one of the keys to sound integration. If the doors to working life do not open, integration often halts half-way. The Government has set the ambitious goal of halving unemployment among immigrants within the current Government term. We must give immigrants every possible support in finding that first job. Employer and employee organisations are needed, to construct a working life in which immigrants can genuinely feel useful in Finnish society', comments Minister Ihalainen.
The integration programme proposes close integration of employment and entrepreneurship services targeted at immigrants, with the service range of the employment and economic administration. Immigrants' needs are observed in all labour policy projects of the Government term, such as the Social Guarantee for Young People project. Early stage guidance and advisory services for immigrants will be strengthened in particular, while developing labour policy integration training.
Finland must also ensure integration of those entitled to international protection. The integration programme confirms the plan for expediting the placement in municipalities of quota refugees and asylum seekers granted a residence permit, in cooperation between the government and local authorities.
At present, there are some 170,000 foreign citizens in Finland, but it is estimated that there will be half a million by 2030. In the last few decades, the reasons for immigration have become more diverse. Reasons for moving to Finland include studies, work, remigration, humanitarian reasons and engaging in commercial activity. At present, the unemployment rate of immigrants is three times higher than among the original population. Young immigrants have a five times higher risk of exclusion than young people amongst the original population. Their voting activity is also low. In 2008 municipal elections, only around 20 per cent of foreign nationals exercised their right to vote, while the corresponding figure among other population groups was 61 per cent.
The Integration Programme is based on the Integration Act, reformed last autumn, and the Government Programme's emphases onintegration. Through the programme, the Government aims to commit various branches of government to cooperation in ensuring successful integration.
Government resolution on Government Integration Programme for 2012-2015 is available online at www.tem.fi/kotouttaminen (in Finnish).
Live online coverage of the programme publication event, and a recording afterwards, will be available at: www.vn.fi/live (the event will be conducted in Finnish).
The material from the briefing
For further information, please contact:
Kristina Stenman, Director, Migration Department, MEE, tel. +358 10 604 7048
Meri-Sisko Eskola, Ministerial Adviser, MEE, tel. +358 10 604 7104