Companies in the Ostrobothnian ELY Central Region need skilled labour

In the autumn of 2020, MDI carried out a study for the Ostrobothnian Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment which focused on mapping the skills needs of companies and the measures taken by companies to ensure the availability of skilled labour. The study was based on the employment development in the Ostrobothnia ELY Centre area which has been good throughout the 2010s. By the end of the decade however, the employment rate began to rise significantly, becoming the highest in the country. This was reflected in the companies where skilled labour was in short supply.

The main labour reserve consists of the highly educated

In the ELY region of Ostrobothnia, the share of the employed increased sharply in the 2010s and the number of unemployed decreased. The province’s employed workforce has not shrunk, although the province’s working-age population and workforce shrank significantly.

The key labour reserve for the future will be those who have moved elsewhere after their studies and who could return to the province. The employment of higher education graduates in the region is one entity that needs to be examined, both in terms of whether higher education opportunities meet the needs of the region and in which areas the employment of recent graduates in the regional labour market could be promoted. A significant proportion of immigrants moving to Ostrobothnia remain temporarily either unemployed or out of the labour force. Both provinces should invest in the employment and integration of immigrants.

Interviewees and surveys tell us about the need for a larger labour force

With regard to the interview material, the main issues raised, for example, were the attraction of university graduates to the area, the recruitment need for employees in the social and health sector and the expansion of international recruitment processes. Good regional cooperation, low hierarchy, agility, entrepreneurship and well-functioning services were highlighted as positive issues. It was however felt that employment could be supported by bolder action and that the area should be marketed throughout the life-cycle, not just in terms of work.

The three main issues raised from the business survey were: supporting companies’ training needs, increasing active cooperation between educational institutions and clarifying and speeding up international recruitment processes. With regard to training, companies want support for information sharing, facilitating access to training and speeding up processes, for example. Many companies see international recruitment as having a great potential, but have not yet implemented it due to a lack of support and information.

The project included an electronic survey, interviews and participatory workshops. The work was completed in December 2020