Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia

At the end of 2017, a total of 11,736 foreign-language speakers lived in the Ostrobothnia region, accounting for 6.5% of the region’s total population. The most common foreign languages spoken in Ostrobothnia were:

  • Arabic (1,104)
  • Vietnamese (1,084)
  • Russian (928)
  • Bosnian (694)
  • Estonian (576)
  • English (543)
  • Somali (538)
  • Persian/Farsi (488)
  • Other (479) The category Other includes languages spoken by less than 40 people and non-official languages.
  • Albanian (433)

Explanations for the diversity of the immigrant population in Ostrobothnia include the opportunities of higher education, large international enterprises and the reception of refugees.

At the end of 2017, a total of 1,985 foreign-language speakers lived in the Central Ostrobothnia region, accounting for 2.9% of the region’s total population. Most of the foreign-language speakers in Central Ostrobothnia live in the municipality of Kokkola. The most common foreign languages spoken in Central Ostrobothnia were:

  • Russian (249)
  • Other (233) The category Other includes languages spoken by less than 40 people and non-official languages.
  • Estonian (192)
  • Vietnamese (134)
  • Chinese (127)
  • Arabic (118)
  • English (118)
  • Thai (109)
  • Persian/Farsi (80)
  • Ukrainian (76)

Reception of refugees

Ostrobothnian municipalities have been active both in receiving quota refugees and in providing refugees placement in municipalities. There are reception centres in Kristiinankaupunki, Pietarsaari, Vaasa and Vöyri. Vöyri has also a group home for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. Unaccompanied minors who have received a residence permit usually transfer to a family group home in Vöyri or Pietarsaari. Kokkola receives quota refugees in Central Ostrobothnia.

Education paths

Some of the foreign-language speakers in Ostrobothnia learn Finnish and some Swedish. Integration training as labour market training is available in both languages depending on regional demand. Full-day language teaching in Finnish or Swedish is also provided comprehensively by liberal adult education institutions. The reforms of basic education for adults and of reading and writing instruction has created new education paths for immigrants in the field of liberal adult education. Basic education for adults is available in Finnish in Kokkola, Kristiinankaupunki, Pietarsaari and Vaasa and in Swedish in Närpiö and Pietarsaari. Reading and writing instruction is organised in Finnish in Kokkola, Kälviä, Pietarsaari and Vaasa and in Swedish in Kruunupyy, Pietarsaari and Vaasa. (Information checked on 1 May 2018.)

 

Integration in Ostrobothnia or Central Ostrobothnia

Welcome Office provides information about the Finnish society and its services for immigrants in the municipalities of Vaasa, Vöyri, Mustasaari, Närpiö, Maalahti, Korsnäs, Kaskinen and Kristiinankaupunki, while the information service Kotouttamisportti serves immigrants in the Pietarsaari region. Kokkola has a low-threshold information, counselling and guidance service, organised as part of a European Social Fund project (Osana).

There is inter- and cross-sectoral collaboration in Ostrobothnia that aims to promote the integration of immigrants. Public and third-sector operators cooperate closely in the integration work and the promotion of good relations between population groups. The number of associations for immigrants is constantly on the increase in the region, and they have increased their activity and their supply of services. The Organisation Incubator of the Finnish Refugee Council provides immigrant associations support in the general association activities and in applications for funding.

Resurssirengas is an open information channel and cooperation network operating in the region of Vaasa. The City of Vaasa has the responsibility for its administration. The network meets regularly once every 2–3 months.

Megafon is an information channel for operators in the Pietarsaari region (including Kruunupyy) who are engaged in integration and multicultural activities. It is managed by the Pietarsaari integration unit of the ESF project Hyvä alku Pohjanmaalla (Good start in Ostrobothnia).

 

South Ostrobothnia

At the end of 2017, a total of 3,957 foreign-language speakers lived in the South Ostrobothnia region, accounting for 2.1% of the region’s total population. The most common foreign languages spoken in South Ostrobothnia were:

  • Russian (836)
  • Estonian (744)
  • Hungarian (275)
  • Thai (206)
  • Ukrainian (182)
  • English (174)
  • Turkish (145)
  • Polish (142)
  • Other (96) The category Other includes languages spoken by less than 40 people and non-official languages.
  • Arabic (85)

The first reception centres in South Ostrobothnia were established in Lappajärvi, Kauhava and Seinäjoki in autumn 2015. The three municipalities had then an agreement with the ELY Centre for South Ostrobothnia regarding the provision of placement in municipalities for asylum seekers with a residence permit. South Ostrobothnia has only one reception centre still in operation in 2018. A family group home in Seinäjoki accommodates unaccompanied minors with a residence permit until their turn 18 years of age.

Work-related migration is common in South Ostrobothnia, and the region is a pioneer in promoting immigrants’ skills and in organising services for newly arrived immigrants

INKA Internationalisation Centre is a centralised immigration and integration expert service in the Suurpohja area (Isojoki, Karijoki, Kauhajoki, Teuva and Kurikka). The municipality of Kauhava has an integration coordinator whose job is to guide and advice clients according to their needs. Other similar officials include a refugee coordinator working for the city of Seinäjoki.

South Ostrobothnia has an immigration forum for key operators dealing with immigrants. It focuses especially on issues concerning education and training for immigrants. It meets three to four times a year.