Office worker in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA


Nearly 40% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Finland are struggling to find skilled workers, according to the latest Entrepreneur Gallup. The survey, conducted between April 3 and 15, 2024, highlighted persistent challenges in recruiting competent labor, a situation that has remained unchanged since last fall.

The findings show that 37% of SMEs face difficulties in hiring skilled employees, impacting their growth potential, particularly in the industrial sector and western Finland.

While the situation has slightly improved since early spring, it remains more challenging than in 2022, primarily due to worsening business conditions that have limited job offerings.

Mikko Kinnunen, an education policy expert at the Finnish Entrepreneurs Association, emphasized the significant growth potential in small businesses when they can acquire skilled labor. "When businesses get the skilled workforce they need, they can grow and flourish in their region. This requires a nationwide educational offering that meets the needs of businesses and the labor market," Kinnunen stated.

The survey also pointed out the pressing need for flexible and responsive vocational training. Despite budget cuts of 100 million euros affecting adult vocational education, experts argue for more adaptable and efficient training models to prevent exacerbating the labor shortage and slowing economic growth. "Now that budget cuts have been implemented, adult vocational education must be made more flexible and effective so that the labor shortage in businesses does not worsen and inhibit growth," Kinnunen suggested.

Kinnunen also highlighted the importance of recognizing and accrediting the prior learning of adults to allow them to complete qualifications more flexibly and quickly. Additionally, he advocated for greater use of paid apprenticeships as a pathway to new jobs and careers.

With the government investing 10 million euros in a model to replace adult education support, particularly in sectors critically suffering from labor shortages like special education and nursing, there is a move towards addressing these issues. However, Kinnunen warns that merely easing staffing regulations will not sufficiently resolve the shortage of nursing care professionals, urging that education must also play a part in solving this issue.

This survey reflects the strong sentiments among Finnish entrepreneurs who are calling for a reevaluation of how vocational education funding is allocated, suggesting that components of qualifications should be funded as robustly as full qualifications to deepen specific professional skills.