Statement by UNYF: Racism and Its Impact on Immigrant Youth Employment in Finland



Racism is one of the most serious societal issues that significantly affects immigrant youth employment in Finland. It is important for UN Youth of Finland (UNYF), representing the voices of young people, to shed light on the perspective of racism and its effects on immigrant youth employment. In this statement, we deeply examine racism in work and study environments and propose recommendations and actions to eradicate it.


Racism manifests in various ways in work and study environments. Immigrant youth often face prejudices and discrimination, which hinder their employment. For example, proficiency in the Finnish language may be a decisive factor in getting a job, and many immigrant youth feel that native-level Finnish language skills are expected from them. This was highlighted by Quivine Ndomo, who obtained a doctoral degree, in an article in Helsingin Sanomat. However, Finland’s work environment is becoming increasingly multilingual and multicultural. In many companies, English has become a central working language alongside Finnish or Swedish: for example, in a study by the Prime Minister’s Office, 71% of businesses used English daily or weekly in their work.


Additionally, immigrant youth often encounter prejudices and discrimination in job application situations, where factors such as their name or appearance may influence hiring decisions. This has progressed to the extent that even the TE Office may advise foreigners to leave their photo off their resume. Although educational opportunities are offered to immigrants, their employment in Finland often remains lower. In 2021, only about 60% of foreigners who completed a university of applied sciences degree were employed in Finland during the year, while nearly 90% of Finns were employed. Similarly, only half of foreigners who completed a doctoral degree were employed, while nearly 90% of Finns were employed. Instead of jobs in their own field, they often have to settle for atypical and temporary work, which does not include the security or benefits associated with regular employment.


It is important to identify and address racist attitudes and actions in work and study environments. UNYF emphasizes the role of youth in this process. Young people should be aware of their own prejudices and strive to counteract them and intervene in racist situations, even if it requires courage and sacrifices from their comfort. As future employers and leaders, young people are crucial in eradicating racism in our society.


Additionally, it is important to listen to and provide space for immigrant youth to express their experiences and views openly and safely. UNYF calls on all stakeholders in work and study life to be vigilant and actively oppose racism and discrimination and to create environments where everyone has the opportunity to succeed and thrive without fear of discrimination and prejudice.


In conclusion, UNYF emphasizes that society must work closely together and commit to concrete actions against racism to promote immigrant youth employment. This requires comprehensive cooperation among various stakeholders, reform of the education system, awareness campaigns, and anti-discrimination legislation. It is not enough for policymakers to set goals and regulations; universities and employers, for example, must also be involved in this collective effort. UNYF is committed to promoting this work and hopes that all immigrant youth can enjoy equal opportunities in the future, regardless of their background or origin.


Together, we can create a society where every young person feels valued and welcomed.


Lumi Reichenbach
Vice Chairperson

Adel Rizvi



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