The ICTOulu team had a special opportunity to interview Marjo Pekkonen, a development manager at BusinessOulu. She’s the leader of the local government driven employment pilot, a national project in which some of the Employment and Economic Development Office’s (TE Office) tasks are transferred to the municipalities – such as the City of Oulu, BusinessOulu. She’s responsible for developing the local pilot as well as employment services in general, with a 20-year experience on the field.
Currently the public employment services in Finland are provided by these pilots and the TE Office together. The clients will be directed to one of these instances through certain criteria. Both provide the same statutory services but have additional services on their own, e.g., BusinessOulu has many services for supporting recruitment
How do you see the outlook of Finnish labor market currently and in the near future?
In general, the labor market is bustling, there have been plenty of open jobs this year and last year. In some fields we can clearly discern labor shortages. The skill requirements in certain fields are so strict that it is difficult to provide them with competent manpower.
How do you see the Oulu area compared to the national outlook?
In the big picture there is no real difference. With certain fields there are the same challenges to fill positions. The only anomaly would be the frequency of young jobseekers. In Oulu area the portion of jobseekers under the age of 30 is larger than the national average. This is most likely because Oulu has a positive net migration and plenty of graduating students.
What is the outlook of the ICT field?
Right now, among the pilot clients there are around 130 unemployed jobseekers on the ICT field with a bachelor’s degree or higher. They could easily be employed by local businesses with only light employment supporting services. Majority of them are young people with plenty of potential, from multiple subfields with a slight emphasis on web development and programming. There are also lots of open positions but for some reason they don’t seem to match with the jobseeker pool.
What kind of resource are the jobseekers for the ICT companies in Oulu area?
The jobseekers on the ICT field are a remarkably potential resource for the companies. They are very active and seek other opportunities if there are no work positions available. Many of them apply for supplementary studies or accrue more know-how through other services. They are willing to improve themselves and keep up with the advancements of the field, following what employers need and want from their applicants. We just need the means to create possibilities for the jobseekers and the jobs to meet, which requires a variety of services and opportunities.
The Labor market has been relatively hot on the technology fields. Do employers feel the need to improve their recruiting?
Employers – the companies – are collaborating with learning institutions with an emphasis on the students’ transition to the work force. But there’s the question of what kind of collaboration is needed to employ the current unemployed talent pool. It’s essential to get the jobseekers and the jobs to meet.
The ICT field in Oulu is international. How does the international talent fare on the labor market?
In addition to collaboration with the learning institutions, there’s also collaboration to get international talent to stay on the area after graduating by matching them with the local ICT companies. Coordinator for this is Oulu Talent Hub, a project of BusinessOulu. We are also developing other supporting concepts, for example the Oulu International House is being built during this fall.
Some of the ICT companies have limited experience of employing unemployed jobseekers. What kind of advice would you give to them?
Be open-minded, it is possible to agree on a short work-try-out to support the jobseeker’s reentry to workforce. If you are pondering the financial risk, there’s the possibility to utilize pay subsidy: a discretionary subsidy aimed at promoting the employment of unemployed jobseekers. Give the opportunity for the unemployed jobseekers to show their skills and develop them further. BusinessAsema Service Desk provides guidance for companies on these issues and more.
What are the possibilities for the people wanting to change their career into ICT?
There are several services for career changes, e.g., the possibility to study for 24 months funded with the unemployment security and a variety of labor market trainings. The demand for ICT talent is high right now, so there are many different routes to train for the field.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
While we already have tight connections with the employing companies, I hope that we could have even better collaboration when developing the solutions for the challenges in employment. It’s important to exchange information and develop joint processes instead of everyone trying to tackle the issues alone, especially in a fast-changing field like ICT. The public services are here in order to help the companies and the jobseekers.