Article: Pandemic boosted digitalisation and growth opportunities in Finland’s ICT industry: Ulla Hiekkanen-Mäkelä, Business Finland

Technology

Pandemic boosted digitalisation and growth opportunities in Finland’s ICT industry: Ulla Hiekkanen-Mäkelä, Business Finland

In an exclusive interaction with us, Ulla Hiekkanen-Mäkelä, Head of TalentBoost, Business Finland, shed light on how the year 2021 for the Finnish ICT industry was and how do growth prospects in 2022 look like.
Pandemic boosted digitalisation and growth opportunities in Finland’s ICT industry: Ulla Hiekkanen-Mäkelä, Business Finland

2022 will be the third year of the pandemic. Businesses and industries have been through a lot-be it change in work models or digitalisation or virtual events or layoffs or the most recent Great Resignation. At this juncture, they have a rare opportunity to seize the moment for the long term taking into consideration the broader drivers of value including talent management, customer acquisition, productivity, and revenue.

In an exclusive interaction with us, Ulla Hiekkanen-Mäkelä, Head of TalentBoost, Business Finland, shed light on how the year 2021 for the Finnish ICT industry was and how do growth prospects in 2022 look like. Ulla is Head of TalentBoost at Business Finland. TalentBoost is a government program, which aims at attracting international talents to Finland, helps companies to recruit international talents and coordinates the national and regional talent attraction and retention services.

How was the year 2021 for the Finnish ICT industry when it comes to talent and opportunities?

Finland is a leading country in digitalization in Europe. The pandemic boosted digitalisation in every sector and gave rise to remote working, digital schooling, online shopping, digital healthcare services, etc. This boosted the demand for digitalization and automated services, and increased the demand for software development. In the hardware side, the disruptions in the global value chains have resulted in the search of new channels, application of new solutions and automation, leading to significant growth opportunities in the Finnish ICT sector. 

Although work based relocation has slowed down in 2021, many Finnish companies, that have hired ICT specialists in India and other countries, have found solutions where the new recruits start working remotely, or if the company has an office or subsidiary in India, the work has started there. 

Could you share about the Future is made in Finland campaign to attract global and Indian talent to Finland? What opportunities are available for global talent through this initiative?

The pandemic has revealed new and unconventional methods of recruitment, driven by the speed and flexibility of digital formats. 

This offers unique opportunities for different talent segments. If you are interested in higher education studies, Finnish universities offer fully English-taught degree study opportunities across all academic levels i.e. bachelors, masters and doctorate/PhD. For professionals, there are several job opportunities in the technology sector that can be applied for via www.jobsinFinland.fi website. There is also ample scope for entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities and set up startup ventures based on innovative business ideas. Finland provides an excellent ecosystem for startups that aim for growth in the European or global markets.

What are some of the overarching trends that will dominate the Finnish ICT industry in 2022? How do the growth prospects look like?  

The Finnish tech ecosystem is taking quantum leaps as the demand for new technological solutions grow.

For example, in areas of cyber security, 5G and 6G telecommunications, design of customized microchips and applications in artificial intelligence, companies and research institutions have all increased their R&D funding and are offering interesting job opportunities. Finland is also a stellar spot for New Space Economy and a vibrant hub for startups. Every year at the beginning of December Slush, the world's leading startup event, brings together startup founders and investors in Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

Finland has a strong ecosystem in developing quantum technologies with our expertise in super cold environments a real benefit.  Quantum Technology Finland (QTF) is an ecosystem focusing on developing quantum technology expertise in Finland. Universities, Centers of excellence in research, startups and the government are working hand-in-hand to build world class applications and technologies. One great example is IQM Finland, a technology spinoff from Aalto University, built by successfully bringing together multinational research teams, including scientists and engineers from India. As a result, the Finnish quantum technology ecosystem is well connected internationally and has received significant funding from EU and international investors.  

How are Finnish ICT companies revamping employee experience to attract global talent and contain attrition?

Finland practices good work-life balance and equal opportunities for all.

The regular working hours allow employees to spend with family or on leisure activities. Finnish companies also invest in the well-being of their employees with offerings like free gyms or subsidised sports club memberships. 

During the pandemic, remote working became the norm and now most companies implement hybrid work practices, which allows teams and individuals the flexibility to decide where they work. Many ICT and technology companies here are multinational and multicultural therefore employers are increasingly investing in diversity and multicultural trainings. 

What do you think are some of the changes that need to be brought about by organisations to seize the moment for the long term?

The Finnish government, chambers of commerce and trade associations are encouraging companies to recruit international talents. Training, services and funding are available for companies that are keen on hiring international talents. The government is making important changes to the legislation and speeding up work permit and residence permit processes to fulfil the demands of industries and sectors. 

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Topics: Technology, Recruitment, #Rewind2021

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