Active international cooperation is a key issue in meeting the biggest challenges of our time, such as climate change, overconsumption of natural resources and turning our economies to a sustainable path. Open exchanges of ideas and bringing people from different educational, professional and cultural backgrounds to work together often leads to the best possible results in developing solutions to multifaceted challenges.
As an organic farmer, I participated in numerous international events. During my farming carrier I had voluntary or paid workers and practicians from more than 20 countries. I learned a lot from them. I hope they learned a lot on my farm too.
In my current job as Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing international cooperation plays an even stronger role. Agreements aiming to tackle global problems are negotiated on international forums. I also strongly believe that all countries and businesses benefit from cooperation in, among other things, developing innovative low-carbon products and services, ways to produce renewable energy, and shrinking the carbon footprint of buildings.
Finland is well-known for its high-quality educational system, know-how and innovation friendly political and business environment. We have huge potential to support the global community in meeting our climate and sustainable development goals. However, we too need international cooperation and exchanges of ideas and best practices in order to release this potential and key elements in this regard are international students and professionals living and working in Finland.
We need to reform our employment and immigration policies so that we can attract more international professionals from different fields to Finland. This includes people with both university and vocational degrees, or persons willing to get a degree in Finland and stay and work here after graduation. Without more immigrants, Finland will inevitably face labour shortages in many sectors, health care being one of the most pressing ones.
The first step would be to stop the labour market testing, which is an element of the residence permit application process for professionals coming from outside the EU/ETA region, in some specific fields. In practice this means that when a person applies for a residence permit to come and work in Finland, the authorities check how much domestic labour force is on the market and whether there is a need for additional work force. However, this kind of thinking belongs to the past. We should rather focus on ways to make Finland more interesting.
Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing