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From start to Finnish: When age and experience bring advantages

Looking for a job in your home country once you’re in your 40’s can sometimes be a tough task. So why not take it a step further, widen the search and start looking for employment abroad? Embarking on such an adventure could ensure a better future for family back home, offering many opportunities to utilise skills in a new working environment and, at the same time, broaden personal and cultural horizons. This was the conclusion Mirosław Koziołek came to when he decided to leave his native Poland for Finland, to help his children continue their studies.

“In Finland labour shortages are high in some areas of industry, construction and services, since employment growth has been exceptionally fast here over the 2006-2007 period,” says Hanna Luoma, Information Officer at the Finnish Public Employment Office. Considering that this Scandinavian country has one of the lowest population densities in Europe, it is easy to understand why some companies encounter problems finding and hiring new staff.

Sorvaamo Ruuska Oy is a Finnish company active in the field of the mechanical metallic industry, located in the municipality of Leivonmäki. The population density of barely 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre is almost 40 times below the European average of 112 inhabitants per km2. After several unsuccessful attempts to recruit staff in Finland, the company decided to cast the net across the country’s borders, targeting experienced jobseekers abroad and contacting EURES to help reach this objective.

At the same time in Poland, 44-year-old mechanical tuner, Mirosław Koziołek — originally from Rybarzowice — decided to look for a job abroad in order to financially support his family. Finding himself unemployed, after a short time spent working in Southern Italy, he contacted the EURES office in Poland to look for available jobs abroad. He found out about several job openings in Finland and decided to try his luck. “I thought my age was a disadvantage, and also I didn’t speak Finnish at all, but as this was the only option available at that time I didn’t want to miss it,” Mirosław recalls. In Finland, EURES Adviser Mari Turunen received his application and sent it to Sorvaamo Ruuska Oy which was looking for staff with a similar profile. “When Mr Ruuska, my future employer heard from EURES that a Polish jobseeker was interested in the job offered at his company, he contacted his Polish neighbour to help him communicate with me. In just a few weeks, I’d accepted the job, flown to Finland and they were both waiting for me at the airport,” explains Mirosław, clearly valuing Mr Ruuska’s show of confidence and support.

“We were afraid that he might have communication problems within his team, so we kept in touch with him and his employer and were delighted to see that he’d integrated very well, often using sign language in the beginning,” says Hanna Luoma.

“I’ve begun Finnish classes and my colleagues do their best to help me progress. I’ve also discovered more about Finland thanks to the team and to Mr Ruuska during our regular fishing and sauna sessions,” enthuses Mirosław. “I’m very happy with the choice I made to come here and my dream now is to bring over my family to visit me. My daughter is studying medicine in Poland and my son is still in high school. They’d like to continue their studies in Poland and I’ll do my best to help them.”

Once these objectives have been achieved, Mirosław plans to go back to Poland. However, he’ll certainly be taking a small piece of Finland home with him: “I couldn’t live without a sauna now and I’ll definitely have to build one back in Poland,” he says after just a few months spent in Finland.

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