“Together we are more”

After tackling with recruitment practices in our first co-creation process, we invited multiple stakeholders, including service providers, international talents, companies and researchers, to think about how to optimise the existing services, create impactful solutions and ensure that the voice of internationals is heard when developing the solutions. The proposed solutions aim to address the challenges encountered by highly skilled internationals, startups, and employers.

Narrowing the scope to three target groups

In the second co-creation process, we applied a multi-method approach. This approach involved each participant working independently online before attending two Zoom workshops. The process started by identifying current services and challenges attached to them. Since the service system is so wide, we concentrated on three specific groups of service users: self-employed, job seekers and recruiting companies.

Participants were encouraged to consider the most relevant goals for serving each user group. As a result of discussions, the workshop participants formulated the following key goals for the future:

  • Self-employed can participate in the market and see it as a sustainable business opportunity.”
  • Job seekers know and can access information source(s) for employment.”
  • Employers can easily access the services and the services bring (added) value for them.”

During the discussions on how to turn these goals into reality, workshop participants identified several challenges within the current service system and brainstormed solutions to address them.

A dozen key challenges and solutions

Here is a short summary of the key challenges and solutions resulting from the workshop discussions:

1. Relevance of involving internationals

Challenge: The relevance of involving internationals in service development is not always clear.

Solution: Foster awareness among stakeholders about the value of internationals’ perspectives in shaping services and policies.

2. Transparency and trust

Challenge: Lack of transparency erodes trust and willingness of internationals to use services.

Recommendation: Foster transparent communication channels, build trust, and actively involve internationals in service development.

3. Underutilisation of existing services

Challenge: Many internationals are unaware of existing services or find them irrelevant, unavailable locally, or not provided in English.

Solution: Increase awareness through targeted communication, multilingual information (also in selkosuomi), and accessible channels. Foster trust by ensuring transparency in service offering.

4. Enhancing collaboration

Challenge: Insufficient collaboration between service providers hinders effective integration efforts.

Solution: Facilitate more collaboration between service providers by establishing clear roles, responsibilities, and dedicated funding mechanisms.

5. Addressing resource gaps

Challenge: There is a lack of good practices and resources for supporting internationals.

Solution: Develop and share best practices, toolkits, and resources to enhance support services.

6. Streamlining processes

Challenge: Administrative processes, permit issues, and time constraints are often cumbersome.

Solution: Simplify administrative procedures, reduce bureaucratic hurdles, and provide timely information to internationals.

7. Regional inequality in service levels

Challenge: Services vary across regions, leading to disparities in support for internationals.

Solution: Standardise service quality across regions. Establish benchmarks and share best practices to bridge gaps.

8. Leveraging EnterFinland services

Challenge: Employers still too often rely on paper documents instead of digital EnterFinland platform when supporting their employee’s residence permit application.

Solution: Promote the use of EnterFinland for streamlined processes, efficient communication, and reduced paperwork.

9. One-stop-shop approach

Challenge: Internationals face complexity in navigating various service providers.

Solution: Create a one-stop-shop model where the initial service provider takes responsibility for guiding individuals to relevant services. Simplify access and reduce bureaucracy.

10. Transition between employment and self-employment

Challenge: Residence permit regulations hinder smooth transitions between employment and self-employment.

Solution: Explore the possibility of a flexible permit that allows both employee and self-employed status. Streamline processes to facilitate career shifts.

11. Clarity in entrepreneurship permits

Challenge: Lack of clarity in the entrepreneurship permit process.

Solution: Provide clear guidelines, resources, and support for aspiring entrepreneurs. Ensure consistency in permit procedures.

12. Positive media representation

Challenge: Negative narratives in the media related to internationals overshadow success stories.

Solution: Highlight positive examples of international professionals thriving in the Finnish labour market. Showcase their contributions and impact.

Co-creation generated hope

The group of internationals, service providers, companies, and researchers were able to find an impressive number of solutions in a very short time. The proposed solutions cover various aspects related to services. Among other things, they emphasise the importance of involving users in service development, the relevance of regulations for internationals’ access to services, and the need for accessible and efficient service delivery.

Intriguingly, the discussions of the workshops were characterised by the aspect of hope. As one participant summarised it at the end: “Together we are more, and finding synergies in what each service provider does will help us to serve more effectively!

Satu Aaltonen, HIWE researcher (University of Turku) and facilitator of the second co-creation process