Blog: More foreign workers are entering the Finnish labour market – and some of them have to pay money for it

Values and Attitudes, Work life and Skill shortages, Blog

Post by Mariam Colley, Communications Intern at E2 Research. 

High-quality education, clean nature, and democracy. These were some of the highlighted factors that had influenced the foreign employees’ decision to move to Finland from abroad according to E2 Research's new study published on 16 May 2023.

Employees with a foreign background saw many positive factors in Finnish work culture such as low hierarchies and good work-life balance. Although the general impression of life in Finland was mostly positive, many also shared their experiences of racism and prejudice against immigrants.

In addition, some of them had had to pay so-called key money to an “agent” to get their first job. Paying key money has seemingly become a more common occurrence since more foreign workers are entering the Finnish labour market than ever before. Lately, negative attention regarding this phenomenon has started to gather attention in the Finnish media. Therefore, it is important that the authorities are able to intervene when problematic instances occur.

Other difficulties foreign workers had faced included lack of information about working life, the language barrier, and problems with residence permits. In the study many also expressed their concerns regarding The Finnish Immigration Service Migri’s congested services.

So, what conclusions can be made based on the study’s results?

According to the workers interviewed for the study, obtaining permanent residence permits increased their enjoyment of living in Finland as it reduced uncertainty about the future and encouraged them, for example, to engage in studies to help them advance in their careers. Additionally having their family join them in Finland had a positive impact in immigrants’ successful integration, as did their partner’s and children’s enjoyment of life in Finland.

Despite the specific problems immigrants face at work in Finland, the quality of working conditions and the employees’ rights are at a comparatively high level in Finland, which binds most of the of the study’s interviewees to Finland.

The study explored 25 immigrants’ experiences of work and life in Finland. The report is Building Finland´s Future research project´s first publication. The interviewees worked in the service industry, social and health services, construction, and agriculture.


Alho, Rolle 2023: Maahanmuuttajien kokemuksia työskentelystä ja asumisesta Suomessa. Building Finland´s future research project, E2 Research.

New study: Foreign Employees Appreciate Finnish Work Culture – Yet Many Struggle at the Beginning of Their Career. Press release 16.5.2023, E2 Research.