Competence inventories further employment

Daniel Rosenqvist
Daniel Rosenqvist

Lapland’s tourist season also employs asylum seekers. In March, the cleaning service provider N-Clean had about ten men in the Lapland area employed to keep everything clean.

The Kelo-Glass igloos and log chalets in Kakslauttanen in Sodankylä are full of tourists from December until spring. The place is especially popular among Asian travellers, who come here to experience the Finnish winter.
One of the men employed is 28-year-old Mohammad Jamshir from Iraq. This is his second winter working for N-Clean in Kakslauttanen.
“I don’t like doing nothing. I’m happy when I can work.”
Jamshir’s employment was furthered by the competence inventory performed at the reception centre. The competence inventory is an interview which maps the asylum seeker’s language skills, education and previous work experience as well as wishes regarding training and employment. 
Jamshir received a TET placement doing forestry work within a few weeks from the competence inventory. TET is short for ‘työelämän tutustumispaikka,’ meaning ‘workplace familiarisation placement.’
“There were four men besides me. We felled larger and smaller trees.”
He thinks the competence inventory is a good idea. “Yes, it helped,” he says. 
A few months after the TET placement period, Jamshir had already found paid employment as a cleaner. During the summer, he has every intention to continue his career in northern Finland.

Positive feedback about the asylum seekers

N-Clean’s Service Manager Marja Rosenqvist has been hiring asylum seekers as cleaners for Levi and Kakslauttanenfor a few years now. First there was one asylum seeker, and then the group grew as employees asked friends tojoin. Many have come through the Rovaniemi reception centre.

“This season has been good, old employees help the new ones. We couldn’t have better boys. Everyone praises them,” Rosenqvist says.

The employees are men under the age of 30.

“They are wonderful, polite, happy and hard-working.”

The job is quite physically demanding. Cleaning equipment is moved from one place to anotherusing a sled in all kinds of weather. There are few Finnish cleaners here.Jamshir has become accustomed to the conditions. 

“The work isn’t hard. I’m also used to the snow, because I have been in Finland for over three years now.”

“It was difficult in the beginning, when the temperature was -15 degrees. Now even -20 or -25 seems normal.”

Some employees have been granted a residence permit on the basis of work 

Usually, the work contracts at N-Clean are fixed-term and the period begins with paid training lasting two weeks. Suitability for the trade is determined during this period. 
“If, after two weeks, you still can’t find the broom cupboard, we will not employ you. They understand it themselves, if they can’t make a bed or clean a toilet,” Rosenqvist says.
For some, the work also continues after the season. By now, four of the permanently employed Iraqis at N-Clean have been granted a residence permit on the basis of work.
Jamshir hopes he can continue to work for N-Clean. 

Language and sometimes rules create challenges

In the North, N-Clean offers employees beds in the holiday homes. Accommodation costs 350 euros per month.  Jamshir and his brother live in a company-owned flat.
“We live in a big house with four rooms. My brother and I share a room there.” 
There have also been some challenges. These have often been connected to language or rules. The employer prefers that the employees speak either Finnish or English.
“Sometimes we have had to employ someone who only speaks Arabic. In these cases, another employee has acted as an interpreter, if necessary,” Rosenqvist says.
Rosenqvist has had to have serious talks in meetings about lost and found items. 
“We say that lost and found items aren’t yours to keep. They must be returned to the customer. You can’t take them home with you.”
There have now been fewer problems. Once the season begins, the rules are gone through as well as e.g. matters relating to greeting and work clothing.

Employment as a cleaner is not just about dust bunnies 

It is important to Jamshir to work.
“My salary is my income; I don’t like receiving welfare. I can make my own money.”
In Iraq, he worked as a fabric seller for years. During his employment as a cleaner, he has seen much more than just dust bunnies and stains.
“I see people from all over the world: Germany, England and France. I learn how they live and communicate.”
“I have already learned about Finns and there is still more to learn. When Asians see snow for the first time, they are happy. They jump from the bus into the snow and throw snow at each other.” 
Text: Marja Juonala