Experiences and challenges of foreign agricultural workers in Finland

T. E.A. Mattila, U. Ovaska, B. Kinnunen, V. M. Tuure, J. Leppälä, K. Taattola, V. Rinnola, R. H. Rautiainen

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

3 Scopus citations


Foreign workers have become an important part of the workforce on horticulture and livestock farms in Finland. The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of foreign workers regarding their working and living conditions. We conducted semi-structured theme interviews during two time periods: in 2008-2009 (n = 40 workers on eight farms) and again in 2018-2019 (n = 9 workers on four farms). We found variations in expectations and goals among workers when they take a job abroad. Compelling factors in the origin country included unemployment, low wages, and low standards of living, and enticing factors in the destination country included social relationships and expectations of better income. Personal networks had a strong role in the recruiting processes. Work on farms is physically demanding, and being a foreign worker affects social life in many ways, such as being separated from family and facing pressures from the home community to arrange jobs for others. New communication technologies have improved possibilities to stay in contact. Employers could contribute to better working and living conditions for foreign workers by improving work organization, ergonomics at work, orientation of new workers, and continued training of supervisors. Worker orientation and training should be carefully planned, taking into consideration the limited language skills, work competence requirements, and possibilities for career advancement of the workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages16
Specialist publicationJournal of agricultural safety and health
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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