International talents no longer move for jobs. They move for places.

Laura Lindeman is an example of how you can take a person out of Tampere, but you can’t take Tampere out of a person.

A few months ago, the Tampere region’s former Talent Attraction Manager started working as a senior specialist for the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM) in Helsinki, taking her expertise to the national level – while continuing to live in Tampere with her family (but more on that later). Laura’s job is to help create economic growth from migration through the ministry’s multifaceted Kasvua kansainvälisistä osaajista (International talents boosting growth agenda) programme.

"Multifaceted", in this case, is more than just a pretty-sounding buzzword. Some of the world’s most important economies (such as China or Germany), but also many smaller countries (such as Denmark, the Netherlands or New Zealand), have embraced talent attraction as a way to remain competitive and boost innovation. With so many runners in the global race for the best talents, the aim has to be not only to attract new workers, but to welcome them, integrate them and make sure that they can play an active role in the country’s economic development. This, in turn, leads to more and better talent attraction in the future and a better reputation for the country – a factor which nowadays cannot be underestimated:

"International talents no longer move for a job“, says Laura. "They move for a place where they – as well as their spouses and children – can live the life they want."

Laura’s job therefore includes putting Finland on the international talent map. Finland’s selling points are obvious: a comfortable lifestyle, an intact natural environment and high levels of education and personal safety, to name just a few. Finland shares some of these selling points with New Zealand, another country of the periphery whose talent attraction efforts, according to Laura, make it a good example for Finland.

Connecting talents and companies for the benefit of all

Being a place where international talents want to live is not just about image or an end in itself, however. It is estimated that Finland needs 30.000 new workers per year to cover the country’s future needs. In addition, "where talents go, companies will follow – not the other way around“, says Laura. Reversely, companies will relocate if they don’t find the talent they would need. For instance, Finland is currently experiencing a lack of senior-level software developers:  hundreds of them would be needed in Tampere alone. This is an immediate problem that cannot be solved only through educating the current workforce.

On the other hand, international talents already living in Finland are still a largely untapped resource when it comes to companies’ internationalization and export activities.

"International talents can help companies get the expertise and international connections that many of them are still lacking“, says Laura. However, international talents have traditionally found it difficult to become part of the business community in Finland – "the biggest obstacle for talents new in Finland is not the difficult language, but a lack of connections.“

Where talents go, companies will follow – not the other way around, says Laura Lindeman

This is another important part of Laura’s job: creating possibilities for the building of nationwide platforms where companies and talents can find each other more easily across regions and integrating the talent-search aspect into existing export-support structures like Team Finland.

Second-city superpowers

While Finland’s efforts in national-level talent attraction are still quite new, it may not be a coincidence that Tampere – often called the country’s "second city“ – has been at the forefront for a few years already.

As someone who knows the global trends in talent attraction, Laura has observed that cities like Tampere have a special power to attract:

"Second cities are not as self-evident as capitals are, so many people find them more interesting. You don’t follow the crowd if you go to the second city rather than the capital.“

On a personal level, "it’s exactly the things about second cities that keep me here in Tampere“, says Laura who spends about 3 hours a day commuting by train to Helsinki and back. "The connections to Finland’s other important cities are easy and great.“ Moreover, Tampere’s lively cultural scene and creative zest continue to hold a special place in Laura’s heart. In fact, "if there is one area in Tampere that would deserve more international attention, it’s the creative industries – our Design on Tampere network is quite unique.“

For now, though, Laura is happy to go on the daily commute to Helsinki to help building a more international Finland.