Linking cross-border Arctic labor markets

Finland's Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja met with Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Tromsø before Finland House (Suomi-Talo) was opened on Tuesday.

TROMSØ: “We have highly qualified unemployed workers, while northern Norway lacks labor. It’s a win-win situation,” said Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja at the opening of the Finnish House on Tuesday after meeting Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg.


The hall was overcrowded by business-people and officials from northern Finland and Tromsø when the opening of Soumi-Talo (Finland House) took place at the UiT Norway’s Arctic University.

“Regional cooperation is the key for making progress. Looking across the borders to our near neighbors in northern Norway like Oulu now is doing with the opening here in Tromsø, is important,” Erkki Tuomioja said.

The Finnish Foreign Minister pointed to the fact that Finland has highly qualified labor for working in the Arctic in sectors like industry, mining, offshore and shipping.

Labor market goes online
In February, a dedicated webportal will online be promoting labor mobility from Oulu region to northern Norway. Here, job seekers from Oulu can meet Norwegian employers after a simple registration.

In Tromsø, Norway’s State Secretary Bård Glad Pedersen from the Foreign Ministry hails the opening of the Finnish House.

“Northern Norway is a region with rapid growth and strong optimism. Our ambition is to create the most innovative region in the world. I’m glad Finland sees this. Finland’s cold-climate competence is most welcomed,” said Bård Glad Pedersen.  He also pointed to the fact that one of the biggest challenges in northern Norway is lack of qualified labor. 

“Of course we welcome Finnish labor,” Glad Pedersen said.

Welcomes more Finnish businesses
Soumi-Talo is initiated by BusinessOulu and will, when moving in to permanent offices, have five employees.

Head of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, Rune Rafaelsen, welcomes the initiative and hopes other will copy the idea.

“We have room for many Suomi-Talo in northern Norway. I hope other cities in northern Finland and other locations in northern Norway can copy the idea. If we look to other parts of Europe, those regions that establish the strongest cross-border links are those regions that have the highest economic growth,” says Rafaelsen.

Cross-border airlink
At the ongoing Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, the majority of companies introducing themselves in the hall are from northern Finland. Participants arrived with both a charter-plane from Oulu and charter-bus from Rovaniemi.

As previously reported by BarentsObserver, Oulu region has set an objective of increasing exports to Norway by €50 million.

Cooperate with our neighbours
Finland’s initative in Tromsø is fully supported by Norway’s Prime Minister, who Tuesday morning met with Erkki Tuomioja at the Arctic Frontiers conference. 

“International cooperation is needed if we are to fully develop the potential of our own Arctic region. Thus, domestic policy and foreign policy relating to the Arctic are closely intertwined,” Erna Solberg said in her speech.

Solberg said knowledge is a top priority and is at the heart of the government’s policy in the Arctic.

“We need both to increase the number of students within relevant fields and to cooperate with our neighbours in the north to create a well-functioning labour market in the region,” Erna Solberg said.