Picture from a meeting. Photo: N2 Albiino / Matti Pyykkö

City of Helsinki wants to take active role in attracting entrepreneurs, businesses and workers and helping them to settle in the city

Helsinki wants be an appealing and attractive city for international experts and their families as well as for people relocating from other parts of Finland. That is why the City of Helsinki intends to take a more active role in attracting and supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and workers to settle in the area.

According to the Helsinki City Strategy, the city is increasingly providing services in English and supporting the integration of the spouses of foreign workers and international students into the local economy. At the same time, Helsinki is securing the availability of skilled labour by reforming recruitment practices, increasing language training and strengthening cooperation with higher education and training institutions in the region. Access to English language learning will also be increased at all levels of education, and the availability of places will be ensured all year round.

To ensure that these objectives are met, at its meeting on 9 May 2022 the Helsinki City Council’s Economic Development Sub-committee approved the Helsinki Action Plan for Work-, Study- and Entrepreneurship-Based Immigration. The plan specifies the objectives for 2022–2025 for attracting and retaining international talent and companies in Helsinki. It also outlines the development of the city’s international talent activities at different stages of the service pathway for incoming talent, entrepreneurs and families. The city also has a role to play in bringing together the different actors and measures in the area.

“Attracting talent companies and investment to our region is a key factor in Helsinki’s success and vitality. It is also a priority of the city’s economic policy. The action plan sets out the ways in which the international workforce and companies that are essential for the city's growth can be attracted to Helsinki more effectively in the future and also retained in the region," says Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Helsinki's Director of Economic Development.

Action plan to develop Helsinki as an attractive place to live, work and do business

The target groups of the new action plan are international talent, entrepreneurs  and start-ups, investors and family members moving to Helsinki with them who are interested in Helsinki as a place to work, study, do business or invest. In the action plan, the city commits itself to five main objectives:

Firstly, Helsinki wants to strengthen its international profile and reputation as a potential home the international talent, entrepreneurs and investors. International reputation plays an important part in attracting the best talent in increasingly fierce international competition. Helsinki’s goal is to be in the top 10 of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index by 2025, which measures the attractiveness and power of retention of cities.

Secondly, the city will invest in attracting international talent and companies. Helsinki wants to act as a partner for companies and employers, and to actively attract international experts, companies and investors, especially in areas where there is a labour shortage. The aim is that, by 2030, the total volume of labour and entrepreneurial migration will have at least doubled from current levels. This will also ensure the availability of a skilled workforce in line with the city's strategy.

Thirdly, the city will increase support for the relocation of international talent and companies. Making it faster and smoother for international talents and their family members interested in Helsinki as a place to settle will help more and more of them stay in Helsinki permanently. The city’s aim is to have the key advisory and administrative services under one roof in the future, so that they can all be dealt with on a single visit. In addition, foreign entrepreneurs and start-ups interested in Helsinki as a business location will receive a personalised soft-landing service with a response time of no more than 14 days. The city will develop measures to facilitate the entry and settlement process in cooperation with the government and other partners.

Fourthly, the City of Helsinki wants to increase the volume of services and communications in English and to improve customer orientation. The aim is to have a wide range of services available in English by 2025, and customer interfaces that are key to attracting international talent and entrepreneurs will also be available in English. At the same time, the city wants to ensure that there are enough English-language daycare and school places available throughout the year. The number of English-language school places has already increased significantly in recent years, but demand has continued to outstrip supply.

Fifthly, the city will pay attention to its own employer policy. The aim is, by 2025, to increase the proportion of foreign language speakers in the municipal workforce to the same level as the proportion of foreign language speakers in the general population. This represents a share of around 17%. Measures will also be targeted at the city’s managerial staff, whose skills will be strengthened, particularly in managing a diverse working community and in supporting inclusiveness in the workplace.

"A large number of experts from different local and state government organisations, universities and research institutes, the start-up community, advocacy and business organisations and companies operating in the region have been involved in the preparation of the action plan. The City of Helsinki also wants to implement the measures together with a network of regional actors," says Elina Nurmi, Chief Specialist of the City of Helsinki.