Immigration and cultural diversity
The goal for the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities' immigration policy is to ensure that municipalities can function locally, regionally and internationally. To this end, they need to fully harness the skills of immigrants and see to that Finland's humanitarian responsibilities are fulfilled. Local authorities have a pivotal role in the integration of immigrants, in promoting participation and non-discrimination and in advancing good relations between different population groups.
Local authorities have an important role to play in helping Finland fulfill its humanitarian responsibilities. The placing of asylum seekers in municipalities should take place systematically and in cooperation with local authorities, and measures to foster integration should start immediately after the move to the municipality. It is fundamental to the immigration policy’s success that local authorities have adequate resources so as to receive quota refugees and asylum seekers who have been granted a residence permit.
Growing immigration rates increase the need to improve integration. This highlights the role of the Employment and Economic Development Centres and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in offering integration training and employment services. Municipalities are required by law to draw up a programme for promoting integration. The programme is an important part of the municipality’s strategy. Local authorities take account of immigrants’ needs in their service provision. A further challenge is to promote positive interaction between different population groups and support multiculturalism at the local level.
Successful integration means that immigrants can participate in society on an equal footing with the rest of the population, in other words, have the same rights and obligations as they do. Language skills and employment are a precondition for successful integration. All integration measures must respond to immigrants’ needs and teach immigrants the skills they need for everyday life in Finland.
Immigration benefits all aspects of the Finnish society. It provides an opportunity for municipalities to enhance their vitality. Municipalities need skilled workforce for services and administration, but also for local businesses. Immigration is an important means for local authorities to maintain and increase labour and skills supply. The local government sector employs some 420,000 people. With around half of all local government personnel retiring by 2025, the local government sector will need to recruit a large number of skilled workers in the coming years. People will be needed in particular for vocational and professional tasks in the health care, social welfare and education services. Growth centres with an increasing population will need new personnel for child day-care and education. The demand for workforce in care services for the elderly is set to increase with the ageing of the population.
The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities brings the voice of municipalities to immigration policy development and reform, and influences the development of legislation in various working groups. The cooperation with local and central governments and the third sector is important for us. We also monitor the development of EU immigration policy and analyse its effects on municipalities.