Focus on Finland

cross cultural training, finland

Training costs may be higher in Finland, but this is balanced by the low-risk environment and excellent growth potential.

Reprinted: “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin, July/August 2014

Finland is well known for its strong social welfare system and advanced standard of living. The government provides free higher education, a comprehensive health-care system, lengthy vacations, and well-funded pensions to the Finn people. This system gives Finns a great sense of personal security and pride in their country.

Finland tops the charts on almost every possible country ranking. It is one of the most literate countries in the world and has one of the highest per capita incomes. It often ranks as the least corrupt and most transparent civilization in the world and has ranked as the most democratic country in the world. Women participate at all levels in Finnish society. The environment is respected and protected through the legal system. Known for its beautiful mountains, forests, and lakes, the Finnish landscape is breathtaking.

Finland is one of the easiest countries in the world to do business in. The Finnish government believes in legal protection for organizations. On a per capita basis, Finland may have the highest cell phone and Internet usage in the world. As a result, the Finnish people are technologically advanced, which can provide a great competitive advantage to companies that maintain a Finnish workforce.

The population of Finland is only approximately 5 million. The main language of Finland is Finnish, but English is widely spoken and taught in the schools. This serves as a major benefit to North American trainers, who do not need to translate their training materials.

Finland holds a strategic location in Europe. By having a presence here, your organization will have easy access to Russia, Eastern Europe, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. These are all areas of the world with great growth potential for your organization. By virtue of its membership in the European Union, Finland has free trade opportunities throughout Europe. By doing business in Finland, your company will have access to a well-trained, professional, English-speaking workforce. This workforce has top computer skills, and is fully supported by the Finnish government. Finland wants to make it easy for your organization to do business here.

WHERE DOES TRAINING FIT IN?
Because of its small population, Finland needs to export products to truly grow its economy. There is awareness that workers require higher skills to compete in the global economy. Finnish companies can earn far higher profits selling finished goods as opposed to commodities. Training is needed to allow this change to occur. Your business will benefit from manufacturing products, and exporting them worldwide.

The Finnish government is well aware that continual training is required for its citizens to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Training is needed in topics as diverse as critical thinking, creative problem solving, quality (including Six Sigma), leadership, and advanced presentation skills.

The main locations for training are in the following major Finnish cities: Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Oulu, Turku, and Malmo. These programs often are held in hotel conference centers. Larger organizations often conduct training sessions onsite. Your training costs may be higher in Finland, but this is balanced by the low-risk environment and excellent growth potential.

TRAINING TIPS

Training in Finland can be different from training in North America. The Finnish people are very reserved and quiet, and they appreciate “silence.” Other tips:

  • Address your participants by their last name.
  • Do not single anyone out for praise.
  • Do not expect Finns to share information about their families during training. This type of information is considered private.
  • Instructor-led training is the norm.
  • Have clear ground rules as to the structure and schedule of the training.
  • Using slides and providing participants with handouts can help them learn best. You may need to adjust the speed and delivery of your material until you are clear on participants’ English comprehension as English most likely is not their first language.
  • There is a good chance that your participants will not ask you many questions. This is a part of the Finnish culture, and needs to be respected.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.