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Talent Hub Eastern Finland brings together international talent and employers in Eastern Finland

Publication date 19.9.2023 8.34
News item
Students at a desk with a laptop and papers.

This joint project of six educational institutions supports international students in finding employment and employers in finding and hiring international employees.

The project, to be carried out in 2023–2027, is based on the cooperation of six educational institutions across different levels of education in the North Karelia and North Savo regions. The project’s participants are the University of Eastern Finland, Karelia University of Applied Sciences, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium Riveria, Savo Vocational College and Ylä-Savo Vocational College.

International students who have completed their degrees in Eastern Finland have significant employment potential that has not been fully unlocked. The challenge is that students do not make enough connections with Eastern Finnish working life during their studies. After graduation, university and UAS graduates in particular struggle to find employment, and up to half of them move out of the area after graduation.

“For international students, getting internships is a much bigger challenge than
for Finnish students, and that is the bottleneck issue of the project,” says Virpi Laukkanen, Director of Internationality at Savonia University of Applied Sciences.

“In addition to making it easier for international students to get internships, the
 development of entrepreneurship paths for international talent is central to this project,” says Ulla
, Head of Education at Karelia University of Applied Sciences.

Closer cooperation between educational institutions wanted to replace the fragmented project field

The Eastern Finnish project field concerning international talent has been highly fragmented for a long time. Businesses in the region and the South Savo ELY Centre have been wanting closer cooperation between educational institutions.

At the beginning of 2022, the educational institutions decided to come together to work on a theme at workshops led by Sanna Soppela, Coordinator at the University of Eastern Finland’s Centre for Continuous Learning. This co-development strengthened the idea that a big and long-term joint project by educational institutions would be more effective than individual solutions.

The aim is to make use of the results of previous projects as much as possible. In North Savo, the project is based, among other things, on the North Savo Talent Hub project (2020–2022)
and the development needs that emerged during the AMOS project (2020–2023). In North
Karelia, the project has been planned in close cooperation with, for example,
the international recruitment model project (project page only in finnish) for North Karelia (2022–2023), the Helposti Joensuuhun project (2023–2024) and the Kansainvälinen uraohjaamo project (2021–2023).

“In project planning, one focus has been on continuous learning measures, that is, how we can comprehensively develop the competence of workplaces and communities. We approach things from the perspective of inclusively developing ties to Eastern Finland,” says Tero Karjalainen, Director of the Centre for Continuous Learning at the University of Eastern Finland.

The University of Eastern Finland is the main implementer of the project. The University’s Centre for Continuous Learning coordinates the implementation of the project in cooperation with the University’s International Development Service and School of Educational Sciences and Psychology.

During 2022, the educational institutions met regularly to develop the project idea and discuss international students’ challenges in finding employment and developing ties to the area, as well as the different starting points and service paths of the educational institutions. Planning and information sessions were held for employers, and focus group discussions were held for international students and alumni. Third-sector actors were also consulted.

Dozens of employers were involved. They were interested in attracting international employees, offering jobs and internships to students and helping their personnel make their competence more international and diverse. The group project application was submitted for the funding process in March 2023, and the project is set to start in September.

Aiming for a vibrant, inclusive and international Eastern Finland

The focus of the project is on encountering international talent, companies and other employers – including the public and third sectors as well as the educational institutions themselves. The aim of the measures is to help ensure that suitable internships and jobs are also available in English or for those just learning Finnish. With extensive communications, educational institutions convey information about their international student potential to employers, while employers communicate about internships and jobs in the region to students. The goal is to involve at least 1,500 participants and 300 employers in the project.

“Employment is not just about work, but also about feeling like you belong to a workplace, doing meaningful work, and being able to support yourself and your family while not feeling socially excluded. It is crucial to have a system that recognises people’s previous experience and does not throw away their education and work history,” says Shima Garousi, a recent graduate from the University of Eastern Finland.

Better identification and recognition of the competence of international talent is important in the project. With the project, language-aware practices and new opportunities for language learning will be increased at workplaces. Workplaces will become more diverse as the share of international employees among employers’ personnel grows and the retention rate increases. The increase in workplaces’ diversity competence will also be reflected in leisure time, and leisure activities will become more accessible with multilingual services. In addition, our goal is to influence the attitudes in the region and carry out anti-racist work, including at structural level.

The entrepreneurship studies for international talent, which will be developed as part of the project, will increase the participants’ entrepreneurship and business expertise, and new business will be created in the area. The aim is for the internationalising and diversifying work communities to create growth for and increase the attractiveness of the entire business community of Eastern Finland.

The employers in the area also recognise the project’s goals. “The availability of skilled labour and international employees are important to us at PeeÄssä, which is why we are interested in the project. A big plus is that various educational institutions from both North Savo and North Karelia are participating in the same project,” says Tiina Tolvanen, Human Resources Director at Osuuskauppa PeeÄssä.

The cost estimate of the Talent Hub Eastern Finland project is approximately EUR 6.2 million, and the funding consists of project funding from the European Social Fund, funding from the educational institutions themselves and external funding from municipalities and businesses.

Tiina Ynnilä, Coordinator, Centre for Continuous Learning, University of Eastern Finland

Photo: University of Eastern Finland/Svetlana Larina
For further information, please contact:
Sanna Iskanius, Director of Training, Centre for Continuous Learning, University of Eastern Finland, [email protected], tel. +358 50 382 3801


 ​​​​​​​Basic information about the project

Project name: Talent Hub Eastern Finland
The main project is implemented by: the University of Eastern Finland.
The sub-projects are implemented by: Karelia University of Applied Sciences, North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Savo Consortium for Education, Ylä-Savo Municipal Federation of Education
Priority area and specific objective: Priority area 4 Competent and inclusive Finland that provides work, 4.2. New skills for working life
Implementation period: 1 Sept 2023–31 Aug 2027
Funded by: South Savo Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment
Fund: The European Social Fund Plus
The amount of funding: Total project cost: EUR 6,294,354, EU and state funding granted:
EUR 5,035,483 (80%)

The financial specialist who took part in preparing the project:

The aim of priority area 4 for the new programme period 2021–2027 is to bring new skills into working life. The employment of international talent in Eastern Finland is at the core of the development of the Talent Hub Eastern Finland joint project. International talent finding employment or setting up businesses in the area supports the growth, development and internationalisation of the business community in Eastern Finland. The project covers the regions of North Savo and North Karelia, and its measures support the programme objectives of the regions and also correspond to the Government Programme’s objective to develop the reception capacity of working life and increase international recruitment. The project is funded by the Innovation and Skills in Finland 2021−2027 structural fund programme.




Eastern Finland Rahoitus Toimintaa ja tuloksia