Finland contemplates recruiting Chinese migrant workers

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Municipalities in the southern Finnish province of Uusimaa are considering recruiting skilled migrants from China, particularly metalworkers and nurses.

"The recruitment from China could help to alleviate our shortage of labor. The Chinese are known as diligent and happy people", said Erkki Leppänen from Adulta, one of Finland's largest adult education centres.

Annually, Adulta has 11,000 students in their program and arranges apprenticeship training and on-the-job training for immigrants.

Leppänen was part of a Finnish delegation that visited the north-eastern Chinese cities of Shenhang and Dalian. He made contacts with local adult education organizations that are already sending workers to such countries as Japan and New Zealand.

The plan would have skilled workers attending Finnish language courses in China before coming to Finland to work for one to three years. During their stay in Finland, Chinese workers would attend apprenticeship programs.

Finland is experiencing labor shortages due to the large number of people leaving the work force every year -- an estimated 25,000. The problem is common among European Union nations.

"Already today it is difficult to find workers for the metals and construction sectors. One way to alleviate the shortage would be to increase immigration of skilled labour", Leppänen said.

The plan to import Chinese workers to Uusimaa is only in its initial stages. However, provided that the proposed actions go ahead as intended, the first Chinese workers could arrive in Finland during 2008, according to Leppänen.