🇫🇮 🇺🇸 Talent attraction the focus for third technology summit between Oulu (Finland) and Kent (USA)

By Misha Radkevitch - June 15, 2023
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Connected people graphicBy ICTOulu

Last week we hosted our third technology summit between stakeholders in Oulu (Finland) and Kent (USA). After the previous two successful iterations over the autumn and winter – in which we introduced some of our respective key assets and explored the metaverse – we decided to tackle a completely different topic. However, it is a crucial one in our sector right now: talent attraction.

Below are just a few selected takeaways from what was an illuminating webinar, which created lots of fresh dialogue between both sides of the Atlantic. We would like to thank all our speakers for sharing some of their insights.

The makers of tomorrow

How do we get potential talent interested early on? This was a conundrum that Jenny Stupica (Director of Workforce Development, National Tooling and Machining Association) presented when discussing her own experiences from the world of manufacturing. The most important thing that can be done to generate the “makers of tomorrow” is get labour work on their radar in tangible ways. That can be from providing hands-on tools and toys to kids of elementary school age through to setting up facility tours and showing how products are made for those that are just about to enter their teenage years.

Happiness is a selling point

Finland’s status as the world’s happiest country provides a big selling point for promoting it as a place for work, said Katri Raevuori (Manager, Talent Attraction, Business Finland). This accolade is awarded based on several factors – from the work/life balance and accessible education system to the array of high-quality and innovative companies operating in their respective fields, including ICT. Katri also presented some of the initiatives that Business Finland are currently running, which support their international recruitment aims. These range from their Talent Boost network to the Work in Finland service for international jobseekers.

Going straight to the talent

It’s useful to think of recruiting in a similar way to how we approach sales and marketing, said Kyle Smith (Director of Human Resources, Kent Displays). He spent some time walking through some of the tools and strategies that have been adopted at his company, not just in terms of finding potential new employees but also continually engaging with them with personalised and transparent communications. Something else that resonated with many webinar attendees was the value of going to where the talent is located; for Kent Displays, this has enabled them to hire interns from states outside of Ohio.

What brings people to Oulu

We got a glimpse of what attracts people to come to Oulu from one of the companies within our own ICT ecosystem. Hanna-Lenna Keskitalo (HR Business Partner, Orbis Systems) said that a key factor that has contributed to a healthy work/life balance for their employees was that everything that they needed was close by. The fact that Oulu is a compact city made day-to-day life so much easier, especially when compared to bigger cities. Some of the other reasons that were cited included the quiet and calm atmosphere, which creates a safe environment, as well as the surrounding nature (parks, forests, etc.).

Building resilience in workers

In order to retain top talent, it helps to build emotionally intelligent working environments in which strong resilience strategies can be implemented during trying times. Maria Stevens (Founder, Stevens Coaching & Consulting) used her presentation to provide some examples of some of the actions that can be taken – from seeking support and guidance from mentors and professionals to setting realistic goals that can be broken down in manageable steps. She also outlined some of the benefits of these measures, saying that by taking the overwhelm out of challenges we can drastically reduce stress levels.

Providing support for talent from overseas

Salla Hirvonen (Specialist, Talent Team, BusinessOulu) emphasised some of the services that Oulu has made available to new residents who have arrived from other countries (as well as future residents and companies within the region). This included International House Oulu, a new project launched earlier this spring with a simple customer service promise: “the customer is always in the right place.” Initiatives like this, which also provide info sessions and events for employment as well as networking opportunities, are to play a crucial role in attracting international talent to the city.


This article was produced by ICTOulu.

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