Press release: Work is keeping Finns abroad – most expatriate Finns would however be prepared to work remotely for Finnish employers

Press Release

A new survey on expatriate Finns and returnees demonstrates:

Work is keeping Finns abroad – most expatriate Finns would however be prepared to work remotely for Finnish employers

In choosing their country of residence, expatriate Finns and returnees put great emphasis on employment opportunities, and consider the situation to be better abroad than in Finland. The majority of expatriate Finns (76%) would however consider working fully or partly remotely for a Finnish employer. The situation has been examined in a research project that is seeking solutions to the increasing need for talent in the labour market in Finland.

The most common reasons for returnees coming back to Finland are related to close friends and family in their home country or the desire to live in Finland instead of the attraction of the labour market. Less than 10 percent of returnees mentioned the opportunity to further their career as a key reason for returning.

The proportion of returnees considering leaving Finland again is greater than the proportion of expatriate Finns who would consider returning to their home country. Of the returnees, 52 percent say that they are fairly or highly likely to leave Finland in the future. Among expatriate Finns, 34 percent see a move to Finland as fairly or highly likely.

The information comes from a survey directed at expatriate Finns and returnees. The surveys were conducted from 15 February to 13 March 2022, and the respondents included both returnees (N = 252) and expatriate Finns (N = 895). The survey was conducted by E2 Research as part of the International Talent Finland Research Project.

Finland has its assets, but employment is decisive for country of residence

Proximity to nature, safety, and the high level of social security are particularly appreciated in Finland by both expatriate Finns and returnees. However, employment opportunities, which are considered to be better abroad by both groups, are a key factor in choosing a country of residence.

A large proportion of returnees and expatriate Finns believe that foreign qualifications and networks, or work experience gained, or time spent abroad are not appreciated in Finland.

When the expatriates’ connections to Finland weaken, the likelihood of returning to their home country is also decreased. Younger people and those who have lived abroad for only a short time have a more confident view of the Finnish labour market. Negative outlooks become stronger as contact with Finland is reduced.

- Expatriate Finns comprise a valuable international network whose skills and vision are needed in Finland. Their desire to contribute to the development of their home country became apparent already during the preparation of the strategy on expatriate Finns. Communications with expatriate Finns should be reinforced by improving the channels, says Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen.

- In Finland, there is an ever-increasing demand for skilled professionals and international talent. Thus, it is reasonable to provide more information on employment opportunities in Finland to expatriate Finns as well. Foreign experience, ideas, skills, and networks should be taken into account and identified during recruitment. Improved recognition and acceptance of foreign qualifications is one of the key issues in promoting return migration, states Keva CEO Jaakko Kiander.

 - Research shows that expatriate Finns are genuinely interested in working remotely for Finnish businesses and other employers. This is an opportunity that should be seized. Working for a Finnish employer helps maintain the professional contacts that are important for returning and could also encourage return migration, says Jyri Häkämies, Director General of EK.

Majority of returnees feel at home in Finland

Most (71%) returnees, who are part of the workforce, have found work that matches their skill set in Finland. The majority of returnees believe that they have settled down well (61%) or reasonably well (22%) after their return to Finland. The respondents’ families and spouses have adjusted to the move almost comparably. Almost all returnees who are part of the workforce (93%) have continued to work after their return and finding employment has typically been quite fast.

- Returnees are a valuable, multilingual, and experienced group of skilled professionals for cities. They can bolster innovation, as they have seen how things are done elsewhere. Research shows that most returnees are doing well – and that is something that is worth sharing with those who are considering a return, says Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen.

- A key finding of the research is that Finland has much to gain if we are able to find ways to become more active, or should I say more aggressive in a positive sense, in attracting and recruiting expatriate Finns. During the next stages of the research project, we will meet with expatriate Finns and returnees in workshops and prepare policy proposals together with stakeholders to encourage expatriate Finns to return and to support the returnees in settling down, says Project Director Mari K. Niemi.

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About the research
The International Talent Finland Research Project is funded by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), Technology Industries of Finland, Local Government and County Employers KT, Keva, Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK, Industrial Employees TP, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, Business Finland, and the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, and Oulu.

The survey findings will be published on 21 April 2022, 10:00–11:30 as a hybrid event in Musiikkitalo, Helsinki. You can register for the event here. You can attend by coming to Musiikkitalo or watching the stream on our YouTube channel:

The research is conducted by E2 Research, a non-profit research institute. E2 Research is a multidisciplinary research institution that provides research for municipalities, ministries, companies, organizations, foundations, policymakers and the media. Project duration: 10/2021–3/2023. The research will be completed before the parliamentary elections in the spring of 2023.

The research project will answer the following questions: How can Finland become a country that invites, engages and attracts talent, and where it is easy for an expat Finn to return to or a foreigner to come to work? How could people from outside Finland also take part in building this country?

Senior Specialist Pipa Turvanen from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland chairs the project’s monitoring group with Senior Adviser Mikko Räsänen from The Confederation of Finnish Industries as the vice chair.

Project Director: Docent, D.Soc.Sc. Mari K. Niemi
Deputy Director of the project: Docent, D.Soc.Sc. Ville Pitkänen
Project website:
The project on social media: @kvosaajiensuomi (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)

Further information about the project

D.Soc.Sc., Docent Mari K. Niemi
Project Director
Research Director at E2 Research
+44 773 7161 944

Further information about the results of the research

D.Soc.Sc., Docent Ville Pitkänen
Deputy Director of the project
Senior Researcher at E2 Research
+358 40 7770 869