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Language requirements for public sector work are crippling

October 23, 2008 (Language Requirement Hampers Immigrants’ Recruitment – YLE News)
It appears that Finnish authorities already make it hard enough for foreigners to integrate and the above story is a perfect reason why immigration in this country is low comparative to other European countries. The language requirements to work in the public sector are completely off the wall. Immigrants to Finland are already expected to master Finnish or Swedish, but to master both?* That is nearly impossible unless the government has resources in place for people to spend many hours a day studying both languages… I mean c’mon – if an immigrant is lucky enough to get a job in Finland in the first place, then when does he/she have time to become proficient in Finnish and Swedish in order to land a so-called "better" position in the public sector? I’ll borrow a few lines from the news piece to paint you a better picture…
"Although the integration and education of immigrants has been widely discussed, many unreasonable obstacles still stand in their path on the way to the job market. In some cases, a university degree is a passport only to menial work. In the public service, many immigrants also fall foul of a compulsory demand to have proficiency in Finland’s second official language, namely, Swedish."
Thankfully the Finnish National Board of Education has withdrawn this wild demand. Immigrants overall already have a tough enough time to adapt to Finnish ways of life. We don’t need any more barriers!
(* To work in the public sector in Canada you should be fluent in both English and French, as clients have the right to demand service in either official language. So really, I shouldn’t be whining about this – even my own country has this demand for people working in the public sector… Though I think finding a job in Canada is infinitely easier than trying to find a job in Finland – employers almost always play the “language card” when considering who to hire in Finnish workplaces.)
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