A client browsing job openings in a TE Office in Pasila, Helsinki, on 16 March 2023. Helsingin Sanomat reported last week that the labour shortage has exacerbated in the capital region, with recruitment problems proving insurmountable in six out of ten cases. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


A GROWING NUMBER of employers are struggling to attract suitable candidates to apply for job openings, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

In Uusimaa, the most populous region of Finland, the share of unresolved recruitment problems has increased from roughly 25 per cent in 2019 to almost 60 per cent in 2022, reveal employer interviews compiled for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment by Statistics Finland.

“The kind of labour that’s in demand isn’t available, and the labour demand was consistently at a high level,” said Heikki Räisänen, a research director at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

Job openings for practical nurses, for example, averaged at 1,817 last year, whereas the number of suitable unemployed job seekers stood at 1,220. Almost a third (597) of the job openings would have therefore remained unfilled even if all unemployed practical nurses returned successfully to working life.

The labour shortage is dire particularly in and around Helsinki. Up to four-fifths of new openings reported to TE Offices are in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.

Helsingin Sanomat highlighted in its report that the scope of the issue can be difficult to gauge because the lists of sectors and occupations affected by labour shortages – such as the annual occupational barometer – only cover about 40–60 per cent of jobs in the capital region. Roughly a half of job openings are thereby filled – or not filled – through other recruitment channels.

There are also hidden jobs that are created by hiring without a traditional recruitment process and job openings that are listed as part of corporate branding efforts.

“A company may announce it’s looking for 10 employees but it’s only hiring three,” Minna Salorinne, a special researcher at Helsinki Urban Facts, stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday. “We don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the labour shortage based on statistics and facts. Statistical information is poorly available or the information is scattered,” she added.

“A job opening is a difficult subject to study because it can only be detected if the opening has been reported as being open to applicants somewhere,” confirmed Roope Uusitalo, a professor of public economy at the University of Helsinki and VATT Institute for Economic Research.

The information technology sector, for example, rarely reports openings to TE Offices.

Uusitalo reminded that there is a proven solution for the labour shortage: the market economy. A shortage of applicants drives up wages, prompting people to become interested in the sector and its job opportunities.

“Sometimes that doesn’t happen, and that’s when we have a problem,” he said.

If a company is bemoaning a labour shortage, he added, it is often because it is unwilling to offer high-enough remuneration.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT