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Is foreign recruitment unethical?

Is foreign recruitment unethical?

| Text and photo: Bengt Östling

Is it ethical to recruit staff from countries which also have labour shortages, for instance, the Philippines? It is not a sustainable alternative, especially when the most qualified are the ones who are the most likely to leave.

The chance to travel is of course great for a young, newly qualified health worker, says Helena Leino-Kilpi, professor in nursing science at  University of Turku.

She graduated as a nurse in the early 1980s. Half of the 48 people in her cohort left for Sweden, where they were paid, as it was seen back then, “enormously more”.

The most important things she learned were that in Sweden gender equality and diversity were very much appreciated, and this was not the case in traditional Finland, and perhaps not even today. The common denominator in the Nordic region is very good health services within a welfare state, with good education and research within the healthcare sector. 

She quotes her own mother: A health worker education can be used for many things. You just need your education, a passport and a toothbrush and you can manage most anywhere in the world as a nurse. 

It is of course good for nurses to be able to travel and try something new and exciting, but are there some ethical issues here? As individuals they ought to have the opportunity to leave, says Helena Leino-Kilpi. But if that happens because Finland cannot offer career opportunities and decent wages, it turns into something negative for Finland.

There are also some ethical issues because the labour shortage is global. 

“There is much that can be improved in Finland. We need to reconsider how we organise services that help people. We highlight the value of healthcare, school and social care, and claim to hold the staff in high regard. But Finnish society has not been prepared to pay what it costs. Our appreciation must be visible, and this is about organisation, education and pay,” says Helena Leino-Kilpi.


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