An increasing numbers of jobs in the Finnis service sector will be occupied by foreigners, especially in remote places like Lapland. On Hotel Kakslautten in Lapland the current share of workers with a foreign background is already 80 per cent. Most of them come from Thailand.
One of them is Virot Ponnade who now spends his days making traditional Lappish food to the hotel’s restaurant. Like most of the others, Virot has previously worked at a five-star hotel restaurant in Bangkok.
”In the summer I will have a long vacation and go home. Then I will come back,” says Virot Ponnade to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, adding that he is already used to the cold winter. In fact, many Thai workers enjoy skiing and even ice-fishing.
“I went to Thailand myself in order to look for qualified employees with language skills, as it is no longer possible to find any in Finland”, says hotel entrepreneur Jussi Eiramo. He predicts that in five years there will be a severe shortage of labour in most parts of Finland.
Initially, the Thai workers had problems with work permits, as employment officials could not be persuaded to believe that the country was facing a labour shortage, which is why the statement required for a work permit from the Sodankylä employment office always came back negative.
Committed, skilled restaurant workers – waiters and chefs – who are willing to head up to Lapland are now nearly impossible to find in Finland, according to the hotel entrepreneur. Last winter a number of restaurant workers came to Lapland from Central Europe, as the snow conditions in the Alps were poor, but this winter there have been hardly any arrivals from that area, reports Eiramo.
”At our hotel Finnish is not required as a must, since most of the customers are foreigners. Our first language is English”, Eiramo continues.
”Baking cinnamon buns was initially a bit of a struggle for the Thais, but now even their buns look quite Finnish”, he ads.