Ville Vesterinen wrote about the need to re-evaluate Finland’s immigration policy to create some real carrots to get foreign workers to come to Finland. He referred to Joi Ito’s post about IT eventually equalizing GDP per capita in the future. The workforce issue has been touched lately in the gaming industry news as well, as Neogames published their report on the Finnish game industry’s educational needs.
I think SMEs can do a lot themselves as well to get foreigners excited about working here. First of all, there is a whole bunch of good foreign students out there, many of whom are eager to work and show their skills if only given the chance. Of course hiring students is also pretty cost efficient. Second, if you happen to build a reputation good enough to lure some professional from abroad to Finland, the chances are she will draw in also other fellow countrywomen over time. I’ve seen that happen, in a somewhat large scale even. That’s really valuable when the available professionals in Finland are as limited as today. Often they also bring their spouses along who may be skilled in some other area, so other organizations may benefit as well.
In my opinion it’s also very good to strive to get foreigners along in the startups early on. It’s quite tricky a task to try to build a truly global product or service if you only have people from a single continent, let alone from one country. In some cases you can surely offset this by having beta users, but sometimes you just want the insight in-house, along with the respective networks you can tap into. Also, the sooner you (really need to) start using English as the true company language, the easier it gets to get other nationalities along, and the lighter it makes the document translation burden later on.
Official policies are little use if the companies themselves don’t take on the opportunity. So, do yourselves and Finland a favor and hire foreigners! That’s my 2 cents.