Explained: Why world's happiest country is seeking migrants?
The world's happiest country, Finland, is seeking migrants as it is facing an acute workforce shortage due to an ageing population. The government warned that the nation needs to double the immigration levels to 20,000-30,000 a year to maintain public services
According to the United Nations, with a population of just 5.52 million, Finland has 39.2 over-65s per 100 working-age people, second only to Japan in the ageing population index. The UN predicts that by 2030 the 'old-age dependency ratio' in the country will rise to 47.5. The country faces anti-immigrant sentiment and a reluctance to employ outsiders.
Charles Mathies, a research fellow at the Academy of Finland, part of the government's 'Talent Boost' programme, told AFP that their main aim is to employ a workforce that includes health workers from Spain, metalworkers from Slovakia, and IT and maritime experts from Russia, India and Southeast Asia.
Talent Boost programme aims to make the country more attractive internationally, in part through local recruitment schemes.
As per a report, 17% of the population was aged over 65, one of the highest in the world. Another report states that Finland received 23,000 new migrants in 2018 which dipped -2.5% from the previous year. Also, the annual population growth rate was 0.35% in 2018 due to hostile weather conditions and language barriers.
In March 2020, Finland created a new permit and nationality unit to boost migration even as it had closed its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic allowing only returning Finnish citizens.
Finland has consistently topped the list of happiest countries in the world four times in a row for its quality of life and freedom, however, reports say the country needs to double its immigration to maintain public services registering huge skills shortage in various sectors.