Finland: Unemployment among Somalis high, but improving

Finland: Unemployment among Somalis high, but improving

Getting a job is the most important goal set in official immigration policy. Unemployment among those speaking Somali as a mother tongue was 43.3 per cent according to figures put out by Statistics Finland for 2008.

Among the Somalis, adults outside the work force, as housewives and as conscripts, outnumber those who are officially unemployed. The employment level is just 29.8 per cent.

Mervi Virtanen, Director of Immigration at the Ministry of the Interior, points out that the unemployed include those who have recently come to Finland, who have neither linguistic skills, nor a profession.

"On a general level there still seems to be prejudice against Somalis in society."

However, the situation is not necessarily all that grim. Employment should be examined over a longer period, says Annika Forsander, director of immigration issues for the City of Helsinki.

For the Somalis who came to Finland in the first wave, in 1989-1993, the employment rate in 2007 was 58 per cent, according to a study which is being prepared at the Urban Facts department of the City of Helsinki.

In the same year the employment rate for the whole population was 69.9 per cent.

"Employment has constantly improved, the more years have gone by", Forsander says. "This suggests that immigrants are growing out of their dependency on social welfare but it takes time, especially with refugees."

Some Somalis have found employment in work that takes place among other Somalis - as teachers, school assistants, or teachers of the Somali language, but there are no figures on that.


Source: HS (English)

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