Employment is the most important factor contributing to the integration of successful asylum seekers in Finland, Jari Lindström (PS), the Minister of Justice and Employment, estimated while commenting on the reform of the national integration strategy at a press conference on Wednesday.
“We have quite a lot of work ahead of us to make sure these people integrate. I'd say that employment and integration go hand-in-hand to the extent that employment is the best way to integrate these people. Otherwise, it'll take years before these people integrate in our society,” he said.
“This is being realistic.”
Employment, he argued, is also the most effective way to prevent discrimination.
“It's my belief that […] all kinds of discrimination will decrease when people work together. Immigrants who have been granted asylum will learn the language and see how they should conduct themselves in the Finnish society and at workplaces – and vice versa. Integration takes place through participation,” he stated.
The Ministry of the Interior has estimated that roughly 10,000 of the 32,000 migrants who sought asylum in Finland in 2015 will eventually be granted asylum.
The first critical step for the successful applicants will be their placement in municipalities, according to Lindström. The number of municipal places is currently far from sufficient – a modest 1,700 – and the ELY Centres are looking into the possibility of receiving more immigrants in their respective regions.
Lindström assured that the skills, educational background and employment prospects of immigrants placed in municipalities will be surveyed more carefully in order to prevent them from relocating to population centres shortly after their placement. A greater emphasis will also be placed on the working life in the integration training.
The integration process, he reminded, will nevertheless require resources.
“The integration of these people will take a lot of time and resources because, as it is, there is hardly an abundance of employment opportunities for them,” he said.
“Asylum seekers come from conditions and societies with different rules and codes of conduct from Finland. We've witnessed and heard about the unfortunate excesses: there are violent structures and totally different approaches to the position of women. People have to unlearn these habits and learn how our society works.”
Lindström also assured that although a greater emphasis will be placed on employment in the integration process, no fast lanes will be established for any population group. “The measures we'll take must apply to everyone. Of course, you have to keep in mind that language skills pose a whole other question.”
The Minister of Justice and Employment said he considers it positive that businesses have approached authorities to lend a hand in the integration efforts.
“It's our responsibility as policy-makers to remove the obstacles to helping. I'm referring especially to the case of asylum seekers who wanted to plough snow, but certain questions of responsibility and occupational safety stood in their way. These are issues that naturally have to be solved,” said Lindström.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi