Entrepreneurs in Lapland are currently unable to assess what the tourist season will look like and how much work they can offer. Employees, on the other hand, do not dare to leave southern Finland in pursuit of zero-hour contracts.
Lapin tourism entrepreneurs are optimistic about the upcoming tourist season, but seasonal workers are becoming short of these prospects.
In the past, employers have been able to select employees from among several applicants, but now employees are sought “with cats and dogs,” describes the Executive Director of the Lapland Tourism Industry Association. Nina Forsell. The association monitors the interests of Lapland’s tourism entrepreneurs.
There is a shortage of both old familiar employees and new entrants. The absence of established seasonal workers also means that workers need to be instructed and instructed more than before, Forsell says.
Before the corona pandemic, Lapland’s important winter season lasted from the beginning of November to the end of April.
One of the seasonal workers who are experienced and return to work in December is from Rovaniemi Eveliina Lainio. In 2017, he moved from his parents from Laitila to Rovaniemi for a season to work for Lapland Safaris.
In his first winter, Lainio worked full time. There could be up to 17 hours of work a day on individual days, and there was one day off per week. In return for long days, a work day could sometimes consist of just a few hours of gig.
Lainio was not bothered by the hard work, as he had applied for seasonal work in the hope of large hours.
The work gig to the north lasted longer, as Lainio decided to apply to Rovaniemi to study. When the school doors opened, he moved into the city permanently.
For the next two winters, Lainio worked as a gig with a zero-hour contract. Tasks ranged from elf to reindeer safari guide. The arrangement was not exciting, because under the supervision of a familiar foreman, it was possible to rely on getting gigs.
In 2020, however, the situation changed.
“It was usually asked well in advance in the fall if you would come to work this winter as well. Now there was no message, and of course I knew for myself the situation in the world and the fact that there are no tourists. Of the usual 100 guides, only a dozen, regular people, were at work, ”says Lainio.
The notice period of a few weeks has a large threshold for going to work in different parts of Finland if a good livelihood is not known for sure.
Entrepreneurs are, according to Forsell, currently uncertain about the number of foreign tourists in the wake of last winter, so it is not yet known exactly how much labor is needed.
Tourists are expected to return, especially from Central Europe, but the return of the Japanese, for example, is not yet dreamed of due to the country’s strict quarantine regulations.
The situation of employers has changed since last winter. At the time, there was flexibility in labor law for employers to make it possible to lay off fixed-term workers during the gloomy period of the pandemic. Now the corresponding layoff is no longer successful.
According to Forsell, the lack of flexibility means that the employer must be more confident than last year that there will be enough work.
Employee from the point of view of Lapland, seasonal work is not as attractive as before, as it involves a higher risk than in previous years, says the regional manager Jarno Koski Service Trade Union (Pam).
According to him, there are zero-hour contracts on offer, which do not guarantee abundant working hours, after which many seasonal workers have previously left the south for the season in Lapland.
Koski reminds that employees from southern Finland often start preparing for the winter season already in the autumn, for example by looking for a tenant for their apartment. The notice period of a few weeks has a large threshold for going to work in different parts of Finland if a good livelihood is not known for sure.
“Few go there to hang out, but many have the goal of working a lot of hours and equalizing the rest of the year’s income,” says Koski.
Lainio expects a return to seasonal work in December. Pandemic winter he was working in a shop.
Unlike in previous years, he was interviewed for work now in late spring. There was still a cautious tone in the surveys at the time, which, however, waned in the fall when I was asked to work again. Lainio eventually received a contract that guarantees working hours.
Seasonal work has played a big role in Lainio’s economy, as there have been many jobs and, for example, evening gigs on northern lights safaris.
With a zero-hour contract, he would not necessarily have ventured into an uncertain tourism situation.
Lainio says his work community will change somewhat in the coming season, as many co-workers have changed industries.
“On the other hand, many are also returning, but these are meaningful chores,” Lainio says.
Also there will be fewer foreign workers coming to Lapland next winter than usual. This complicates the shortage of workers, according to Forsell, the Lapland Tourism Industry Association.
According to him, there is a need for foreign labor, because not enough seasonal workers have been found in other parts of Finland in Lapland in previous years. HS reported on the shortage of seasonal workers in Lapland already in 2018.
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Foreign workers also have the language skills to serve tourists from outside the EU.
The availability of foreign labor is complicated by the bureaucracy involved in obtaining work permits, for which Forsell would like relief. Workers from outside the EU will only receive a residence permit allowing them to work, unless suitable labor is available in the EU.
Seasonal workers there are no official statistics on this amount. About two-thirds of all Lapland’s tourism workers are usually seasonal workers during the season, Lapland’s TE services are reported.
There are different estimates of the amounts: for example, the regional director of the personnel service company Barona Lapland Kimmo Gauriloff estimates that the share of seasonal workers was 80 percent before the corona pandemic. According to him, there were a total of about 12,000 employees in Lapland in 2019, of which about 9,000–10,000 were seasonal workers.
Slightly more than a fifth of the seasonal labor provided by Barona came from outside Finland at that time. Workers came from the Philippines, Poland, Slovakia and Spain, among others.
If there are not enough seasonal workers now, for example, restaurants will have to reduce their opening hours, Gauriloff estimates.
Lapin The shortage of seasonal workers is a symptom of a larger phenomenon, as the lack of labor is plaguing the restaurant and tourism industry throughout Finland.
The corona epidemic brought so much uncertainty, redundancies and layoffs to the restaurant and tourism industry that many workers switched to other service professions, such as trade.
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For example, according to the Helsinki GSE Situation Room, which monitors the effects of the corona pandemic on the economy, there has been a change in the accommodation and catering industry and in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry. lively and clearly increased at the end of last year. The data is based on data from Statistics Finland and the Income Register.
Seasonal worker shortage see different solutions.
According to Forsell, who represents entrepreneurs, there has been a debate in the industry as to whether employees could be quickly trained for certain tasks. He also hopes workers could be supported in housing, as many have a home in the south that incurs costs.
“Of course, many travel companies are already supporting the housing of their employees,” Forsell says.
According to him, coping with employees at work and adequate familiarization are things that should be considered in companies.
However, according to Forsell, the biggest impact would be to make the tourism situation more secure. On Tuesday, the tourism industry received bad news, when the Committee on Social Affairs and Health decided that Finland would continue to require two coronavirus tests for people traveling here who do not have a full vaccination series.
Pamin Koski, for his part, hopes that employers will hire employees more boldly and that the risk of entrepreneurship will not be passed on to employees, for example through zero-hour contracts.
“The situation in tourism now looks reasonably good. Yes, employees can be found when the salary is sufficient and the working conditions are in order, ”says Koski.
If this season goes well and employers commit to employees, confidence in doing seasonal work can be restored and reflected positively on next season, Koski says.