Coffee cell cultures (right) and roasted coffee produced using VTT's cellular agriculture method/Image Credit: VTT

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Several international newspapers have been reporting on a phenomenon that has become a matter of concern for authorities in rural Finland—the exodus of young women to larger towns and cities. 

Finland’s rural municipalities are largely dominated by the agriculture and construction industries and offer few jobs for highly-skilled young women, who often associate the region with limited opportunities and boredom. 

A perceived lack of respect, as well as outdated attitudes towards ethnic and sexual minorities, has also driven women away from the countryside. The exodus has accelerated the trend of depopulation in rural Finland, with some municipalities struggling to compensate for the lack of skilled labour. 

In light of the growing concerns regarding climate change and deforestation, Finnish scientists have devised a method of creating coffee in a lab. Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland are using cellular agriculture to cultivate coffee in bioreactors.

The method consists of growing coffee plant cells that are cultured in a lab in bioreactors filled with a nutrient medium. The method is similar to that used to produce lab-grown meat products. 

According to the team, who recently brewed their first batch of the lab-grown beverage, it smells and tastes like regular coffee. The process can also be used to create different coffee varieties. 

Pan-European media network Euractiv reports that Finland is facing an acute shortage of skilled labour in the tech industry. Experts warn that the lack of specialists could hinder the country’s economic growth and adversely affect areas such as welfare services.

According to Technology Industries of Finland, a lobbying organisation for tech companies in the country, the sector would have to employ approximately 130,000 new workers—equivalent to 13,000 a year—over the next decade to meet the current need.

The industry accounts for around 50 percent of Finland’s exports. The process of acquiring a Finnish work permit from abroad, even for highly-qualified candidates, is often long and tedious and could take up to nine months. 

According to an article by Schengen Visa News, the Finnish government is taking steps to remedy the situation, as the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has proposed launching a long-term national D visa to facilitate labour migration.

The new visa would allow applicants, including entrepreneurs and specialists as well as their families, to remain in Finland for over a year, unlike the standard, three-month Schengen Visa. In a statement, the ministry revealed that the D visa could also be made applicable to students and researchers in the future.

Meanwhile, The Gravedigger’s Wife, a film by Somali-Finnish writer-director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, has been making waves in the world of cinema. The film premiered to critical acclaim at the Cannes Critics’ Week in July and won the Amplify Voices Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last week.

Ahmed, who was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and moved to Finland at the age of 16 in 1997, hopes that The Gravedigger’s Wife will help the Finnish film audience become more open to diversity and will encourage other Somali filmmakers to make movies in their mother tongue.   

 

Rural Finland is facing an exodus of skilled young women

A growing number of young women are leaving the Finnish countryside in favour of larger towns and cities as these offer more employment and study opportunities. 

Official data indicates that over half of Finland’s rural municipalities now have less than 81 women for every 100 men aged 15–24. Finnish girls often surpass boys in school and are more likely to seek higher education opportunities in urban areas. 

According to a poll conducted by authorities in Kainuu, Eastern Finland, where politicians “are worried” by the phenomenon, half of young women felt excluded from local decision-making, and several complained of intolerant attitudes towards ethnic or sexual minorities.

Original story was published by France 24 on 20.09.2021 and can be found here.

 

Finnish researchers produce coffee in a lab

Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have successfully produced coffee cells in bioreactors employing the same techniques that are used to create lab-grown meat such as beef. 

According to the research team, the coffee cell cultures are cheaper and easier to produce than animal cell cultures, and lab-grown coffee could serve as a beneficial alternative to conventional coffee cultivation, which is currently unsustainable due to increasing demand, ethical concerns and climate change. 

The lab aims to eventually commercialise the product, which would enable countries such as Finland, which cannot grow coffee naturally, to have their own source. 

Original story was published by Fast Company and Bio Market Insights and can be found here and here.

 

Finland in dire need of tech specialists, lobby group warns

Lobby group Technology Industries of Finland, which represents around 1,600 companies in the industry, has said that Finland is facing an acute shortage of specialists, and would need 130,000 new skilled workers within the next decade.  

The group’s claims are the latest in a long line of efforts to draw attention to Finland’s dwindling skilled labour force and the need to attract foreign talent. Multiple industries in the country are tackling similar issues, with the Confederation of Finnish Industries revealing that up to 80 percent of companies are struggling to acquire new workers.

Original story was published by Euractiv on 24.09.2021 and can be found here.

 

Finnish Ministry proposes long-term work visa to attract foreign talent

The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has proposed the introduction of a national D visa, to be granted to specialists, growth or start-up entrepreneurs along with their families. The visa would enable all the applicants to stay in Finland for over a year.

According to Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo, several other Schengen countries already offer the D visa, which could play a key role in helping Finland target and acquire the foreign experts it needs. 

Original story was published by Schengenvisainfo.com on 17.09.2021 and can be found here.

 

Somali-Finnish director’s movie lauded at film festivals

Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s The Gravedigger’s wife has won the Amplify Voices Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Filmed primarily in Djibouti, Africa, the Somali-language film focuses on a gravedigger’s quest to finance his sick wife’s medical treatment.

Ahmed, who describes Finnish cinema as being “so white” and encouraging age-old stereotypes about Somalis, hopes that this film and others will help movie-goers in Finland welcome more diversity. 

Original story was published by Variety and The National and can be found here and here.

 

Tahira Sequeira

Helsinki Times