A health care professional must have adequate written and oral language skills to carry out their work (Section 18 a of the Act on Health Care Professionals).

National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, Valvira, will verify the language skills of applicants who must demonstrate their language skills in either Finnish or Swedish. 

Employers must ensure that the language skills of health care professionals are sufficient for their roles. However, the law does not specify what this ‘sufficient level’ is, different duties require different levels of general and professional language skills. Sufficient language skills must be understood to mean that neither the patients’ or clients’ safety and wellbeing nor the occupational safety of the workers is ever at risk. To that end this requires that employees have good oral and written language skills.


Language training during working hours

Because language is a tool, the employers must ensure that adequate language instruction is provided. They must allocate sufficient resources to the induction and language training of immigrant employees and these must take place during working hours.

Furthermore, poor language skills can also lead to various forms of abuse and discrimination in a work community. Good language skills will help an immigrant understand their rights, leaving no room for abuse.

Skilled social and health care staff can find employment anywhere in the world. There is a danger that English-language training programmes in social and health care will turn Finland into a transit country to the global labour market.

Poor language skills must not result in a situation where health care employees must serve as interpreters, in addition to their actual duties, and do the paperwork for those whose language skills are insufficient. This will have an impact on their coping ability, as those with language skills will be forced to do more of the work.

Induction, further training and education must be provided in Finnish or Swedish, if we want immigrants to find employment in Finland and commit to the Finnish labour market.