Ukrainians’ professional skills are an asset – language training helps find a job


This year, refugees have arrived in Finland from Ukraine, including professionals in a broad range of fields. Employers are now able to have access to valuable skillsets. Ukrainians will have much better opportunities to find a job and cope in working life if they grasp at least the basics of Finnish. Students have access to various basic-level language courses, but employers can also help their employees develop their linguistic skills.

Tiina Prauda.

Ukrainian refugees receiving temporary protection have the right to work and study immediately after they have registered their temporary protection application with the police or border guard authorities. If Ukrainian refugees are unable to find a job independently, they can register as jobseekers with TE Services to access employment support services after they have received a decision on a residence permit. However, they are not entitled to unemployment benefits.

Anna Malanchyna, who works as a specialist in the integration services of the Southwest Finland TE Office, welcomed Ukrainian jobseekers at the RekryExpo recruitment event held at the Turku Fair Center on 15 November. Also born in Ukraine, Malanchyna has a straightforward idea of where the journey towards employment should start.

“If you are looking for a job in Finland and you do not speak the language, start by studying Finnish. Of course, you can also find a job and work without any Finnish skills, but it will be much easier if you can speak the language,” she says.   

Language studies and familiarisation with Finnish working life

Galimatias Concept Oy Ab, a national provider of training services, presented its activities at the RekryExpo exhibition, including integration training provided for immigrants in Helsinki, Turku, Kuopio and Joensuu. Galimatias has provided Finnish training for Ukrainians through the online “Finnish for work” course.

“We have held the course twice, the first time in July–September and the second time in October–December. Three hours of teaching are provided four days a week, and the course lasts ten weeks. We have skilled and experienced teachers specialising in Finnish as a second language. We also use Russian because Ukrainians are familiar with it. Everyone can study here, even those who do not have a computer or internet connection, because students can borrow all the equipment required from us,” says account manager Tiina Prauda (in the photo).

Before the course begins, Galimatias will identify the students’ educational background and work experience. It is also important to know whether the students can use the Latin alphabet because, if they cannot, they cannot participate.

The Ukrainians who have arrived in Finland represent a broad range of professions. For example, there are physicians, engineers, restaurant managers, factory workers, salespeople, accountants and early childhood education teachers. Some have recently started their career in Ukraine, while others may already have accumulated decades of work experience. In addition, some Ukrainians started as seasonal workers, such as berry pickers, soon after arriving in Finland.

Ukrainians are also fairly highly educated. Nearly all Ukrainians aged 20–24 have a secondary level degree and, for example, two thirds of 30–34 year-old Ukrainian women also have a tertiary level degree. 

“In both courses, we have had two groups, one consisting of jobseekers and the other of those who have already found employment. The goal is to learn Finnish for working life and help the students find a job or seek further education. We discuss job-seeking channels, application documents and ways to contact employers, and practise job interviews. In addition, we study the job market situation, the rules of Finnish working life, the education system, basic societal functions, and official services. When working with students who are already employed, we aim to improve their opportunities to continue working in their current job or look for a new job if they are employed as seasonal workers, for example,” says Prauda.

Each student is also provided with personal guidance, and no-one is left alone after the course. The students who completed the course in September have had access to additional guidance, as the service is still available.

A job or study place as the goal

The second online Finnish course provided by Galimatias for Ukrainians is currently in progress, but how did the journey of the 29 students who participated in the first course towards working life continue?

“Ten students did not finish the course because five of them found a job and five obtained a study place. Of the 19 students who completed the course, seven have continued in working life or have found a job in commerce, logistics or packaging. Three are still looking for a job in electrical engineering, cleaning services and the theatre. Eight are applying for further Finnish studies, and one started university. After completing our course, the students achieved the higher beginners’ level in Finnish. The students rated our course 4.67 on a scale from 1 to 5 – an excellent score,” says Prauda. 

At the RekryExpo exhibition in Turku, Ukrainian jobseekers had the opportunity to participate in guided tours around different stands. There were two tours: one focused on training and the other on jobs. The number of participants exceeded all expectations, and one group had to be divided into two smaller groups.

“A broad range of training is available, and Ukrainians were able to immediately build networks with educational institutes. They can contact study counsellors to ask for more information. Employers also seem to be interested in Ukrainians’ skillsets. They are motivated to work and interested in various jobs. For example, the cleaning and restaurant sectors are popular. Men are particularly interested in transport and logistics,” says Anna Malanchyna, integration service specialist.

Getting the most out of skills by focusing on language training

By participating in training similar to the online courses provided by Galimatias, Ukrainians can learn the basics of Finnish.

“Employers can get even more out of Ukrainians’ skillsets if they decide to invest in developing their employees’ linguistic skills. An excellent opportunity for this is offered by the Workplace Finnish Training project of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) and TE Services, in which Galimatias also participates as a framework agreement supplier. Through the project, companies can support their employees who have an immigrant background by providing Finnish or Swedish training and support,” says Tiina Prauda.

Options for providing workplace Finnish or Swedish training include TäsmäKoulutus, MuutosKoulutus and RekryKoulutus. TäsmäKoulutus is intended for employees who are already in an employment relationship, while MuutosKoulutus is for employees who have been laid off or discharged, but whose further training their employer wants to support. RekryKoulutus is intended for companies that want to recruit employees who have already acquired the competence required in their home country but do not have the linguistic skills.

According to Tiina Prauda, workplace Finnish or Swedish training engages employees, supports competence, provides help in and outside the workplace, and promotes working together.

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More information

Webinaari: Mitä ottaa huomioon ukrainalaisia työntekijöitä työllistettäessä? (in Finnish)