Action plan on integration to take account of increasing immigration
Integration services provided by Finnish authorities must be reviewed to meet the needs of the growing number of immigrants. The action plan on integration takes account of the current situation where it is anticipated that people who need integration services will increase by 10,000 next year. The action plan was adopted by the ministerial working group on migration on 27 November 2015.
The action plan emphasises the importance of identification of immigrants' skills, their smooth placement in municipalities and their employment. The plan includes over thirty actions, which also take account of the need to provide immigrants with basic municipal services. Immigrants are required to actively participate in integration measures.
Minister of Justice and Employment Lindström: integration a great challenge
- It is important that immigrants who have been granted a residence permit feel part of Finnish society. However, there will be no 'fast lanes'. Those who come here must obey the rules of our society. We are facing a great challenge and must adopt new integration practices, says Minister of Justice and Employment Mr Jari Lindström, who is responsible for integration policies.
NGOs and businesses have an important role to play in supporting public authorities in integration of immigrants. They can provide immigrants with support at an early stage of integration and help them to network with labour market and other social actors.
Professional skills to be assessed at reception centres
According to the action plan, the professional skills of asylum seekers will already be assessed when they are waiting for asylum decisions at reception centres. After asylum seekers have been granted a residence permit, a broader assessment is made of their skills. If they have to wait for being settled in municipalities for a long time, a part of the assessment may be carried out at reception centres.
Assessment of immigrants' skills will help to direct them to municipalities which provide education or business opportunities that correspond to their skills. Quick settlement in municipalities will contribute to integration. After settling, immigrants will be made individual integration plans by municipalities or employment and economic development offices.
Actions to improve education and employment
According to the action plan, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, centres for economic development, transport and the environment, and employment and economic development offices will reinforce rapid employment of immigrants. The key thing is to identify their skills and direct them to education or work, or to both. Work trials will also be increased and electronic services further developed. In addition, efforts will be made to better exploit immigrants' opportunities for innovation and business.
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of Education and Culture will evaluate the content, duration and overall organisation of integration training. To speed up employment of immigrants, education and training will be tailored to add to their existing professional skills.
- We should also bear in mind that most immigrants cannot find a job or integrate into Finnish society for a long time. They need long-term education and training and other support, says Mr Lindström.
Integration takes place in municipalities
Measures promoting integration are taken as part of services provided by employment and economic development offices, and as part of basic public services provided by municipalities. Housing, early childhood education, schooling and social and health care services play a key role in integration. The action plan stresses the importance of supporting the expertise of experts in municipalities and at employment and economic development offices so that they can deal with the new situation.
The responsibility for the overall development, planning and steering of integration services is assumed by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy together with other ministries. Integration services are implemented by municipalities, centres for economic development, transport and the environment, regional state administrative agencies, and employment and economic development offices.
According to the current estimate, 30,000–35,000 asylum seekers will come to Finland this year. Approximately one third of them will probably be granted a residence permit.
Mr Sakari Puisto, Special Adviser to the Minister of Justice and Employment, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 29 504 8150
Ms Tuija Oivo, Director General, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 50 396 0168
Ms Kristina Stenman, Migration Director, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 29 504 7048
Ms Sonja Hämäläinen, Project Manager, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 29 504 7112
Ms Sanna Sutter, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 29 548 8633
Ms Viveca Arrhenius, Ministerial Counsellor for Social Affairs, tel. +358 29 516 3286
Ms Kirsi Kangaspunta, Director, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 29 533 0136
Ms Katja Palonen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 29 553 0322
Ms Tuula Tiainen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 29 525 0295
Ms Marianne Selkäinaho, Senior Officer for Rural Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 29 516 2218