Immigrants most often find work in cleaning services.Immigrants living in the capital regions, as well as elsewhere in the country, are most likely to find employment in cleaning services. According to recently published statistics, 1,352 immigrants, equalling 13 per cent of the Vantaa population with foreign background, worked as cleaners in hotels, offices or in other commercial cleaning jobs in 2011.

Immigrants in Vantaa are also often employed as cargo handlers, warehouse workers and workers in restaurant and institutional catering services.

In Helsinki, common jobs included sales assistants, nursing assistants and waiters, while in Espoo a high number of immigrants found work as builders or bus drivers.

Even though employment figures among immigrants has improved over that last decade, Vantaa still has more unemployed job-seekers with foreign background than the neighbouring cities.

At the end of 2011, the unemployment rate among immigrants in Vantaa was 19.1 per cent, compared with 17.4 per cent in Helsinki, 12.7 per cent in Espoo and Kauniainen and 12.9 per cent elsewhere in the metropolitan area.

On the national level, 19.3 per cent of working-age immigrants were out of work.

"The figures reflect the unemployment situation in general, with Vantaa having higher unemployment rates than the neighbouring cities," says Hannu Kyttälä, the head of statistics and research in Vantaa.

Immigrants are twice as likely to be unemployed as native Finns, but, depending on the country of origin, the unemployment rate among immigrants varies from a couple of per cent to 37 per cent, with the highest figures seen among people from Africa and the Middle East.

The lower unemployment rate among immigrants living in Espoo is due to Otaniemi and the IT sector attracting people with a high level of education from Western countries, according to Kyttälä.

"They move to Espoo because of work," explains Kyttälä.

Kyttälä stresses that language skills are often the key to finding work in Finland.

Päivi Punkka – HS
Niina Woolley – HT
Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva