Smoothly into Arctic Life - Developing settling-in services for work-related immigrants in Inari 2019-2021


Growing tourism industry has had a significant impact on local economies in the North. A current trend in working life is the lack of local employees available. There are also certain tasks that are not interesting for the locals. Active and successful recruitment has been implemented in Lapland from abroad in order to help the enterprises function and to make visitors happy. To work and to live in the region, employees need housing and functional arrangements for work and for leisure-time activities. There are 136 people from abroad registered as residents in Inari Municipality in 2017, but the number of unregistered seasonal workers is significant. Unfortunately the exact number is not available. From the international workers’ point of view, the challenges of the northern regions are connected to long distances, a limited supply of services, occasional harsh weather, sparse population and intercultural differences, despite the long and international history of tourism in Inari.

In addition to tourism, availability of work force is decreasing also in social and health sector. This is due to growing number of retirements on both old-age pension and on disability pension. Increasing retirement numbers have a significant impact especially in the Provinces of Lapland and Kainuu. There could be synergy benefits in developing settling-in services for work-based immigrants both in tourism industry and in social and health sector, for example when one of the immigrating partners has taken a degree in social and health studies in their country of origin.

A questionnaire was sent to tourism companies and their international workers in January 2019 about present challenges in and development ideas for settling-in services in Inari Municipality, in order to get information needed for this project plan. The answers showed a need to focus on settling-in and integration of international seasonal workers and immigrants. In this project the focus will be on assisting work-based migrants in issues concerning their working life and free-time.

Smoothly into Arctic Life -project aims at creating an operating model for integration and settling-in services. Practical measures will be piloted, and smooth integration of family support and working life services will be planned, taking into consideration the surrounding living environment and local population. The vision of the development is ”Live like people in Inari”. From the local authorities’ point of view, one target is to get new inhabitants to the municipality. The project improves competence and working life readiness of immigrants. Functionality of services will be reviewed and improved, and the problems with allocation of services will be addressed through service design or similar measures. Multi-field collaboration and network-based activities will be applied. Service and support structures and cooperation between enterprises will be reviewed and developed. Vocational and regional mobility will be enhanced. It means that employees will get help in finding jobs in the region across municipal or provincial borders. Also permanent employment might be targeted at in social and health sector. Models and actions promoting integration of work-based migrants will be developed and productized, and availability of services as well as identification of service needs will be enhanced. Common rules in encounters between local community and international workers can be reflected in the framework of the project. The significance of settling-in services shows in social sustainability, equal treatment of community members and in ensuring smooth functioning of the process.

Project actions concern the following themes: 1. creating an operating model for settling-in services , 2. assisting international workers in public services , 3. assisting in housing services, 4. family support, 5. assisting in working life services, 6. coordinating and arranging training and courses (in social and health sector there is a need to start primary and further studies in Finnish language) and 7. arranging events and joint meetings. Practical measures are to map the needs of target groups, plan measures on the basis of them and test the customer journey through service design. Thematic activation events will be organized in the project, important public instructions and forms will be translated and relevant training and courses will be coordinated. Employers will get guidance in filling in permits and forms and understanding intercultural differences; in conclusion they will be assisted mainly in managerial skills.
Main target group are the employers and international workers in Inari Municipality. Indirect target group are local civil servants, whose tasks have been increasing as tourism industry grows.

The project will be implemented by Inari Municipal Business & Development Nordica. Project period is 1.9.2019 – 31.8.2021 and the budget 150 746 euro.

Contacts:

Inari Municipality / Smoothly into the Arctic Life -project
Project coordinator Ms. Elisa Saukkonen

elisa.saukkonen@inari.fi