The situation in Ukraine has created unprecedented political challenges for the world. Russia has been suffering from the weakening of the ruble for quite some time now and the country seems to be shooting itself in the foot with its counter-sanctions. The worst-case scenario is that these sanctions may lead to our important old trading partner’s isolation from Europe. The Finnish economy is in danger of shrinking for a third year in a row due to the industrial structure problem and the expansion of the public sector.

Industrial reform is the only way for our country to return to growth. The entrepreneurs committee working under the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries has launched an entrepreneurship program for 2014-2015. The program is a statement regarding the need for improvement of the conditions and competitiveness of the Finnish industry from the perspective of SMEs. Unlike traditional advocacy, the entrepreneurship program highlights the companies’ own activities.

The first precondition for growth is to increase a companies’ business expertise through a mutual development program and improved board activities. The strategic competence and leadership of corporate executives should be developed in order for companies to find their “thing”, their area of strategic specialization, so when aiming towards it they can invest in product development and innovations. The government is expected to support the companies’ product development and internationalization and help develop their sales, marketing and procurement skills. In connection with this topic, Finland’s most marketing oriented engineer competition, now held for the third time, will be launched as part of the Subcontracting Trade Fair where the aim is to raise awareness about the importance of marketing skills for a company’s success.

The availability of skilled people has to be increased by investing in the development of education at all levels. It is absolutely necessary for companies and educational institutions to develop mutual collaboration in order to ensure that the educational institutions produce talents who meet the companies’ needs. Reducing the administrative burden could speed up companies’ investments and even produce savings in public administration costs if there is determination to really tackle this problem. The elimination of taxation related to a change of generation would also encourage investments.

The public sector has to be revitalized so that it is not tempting to constantly impose new burdens on companies. Taxation is already at an unbearable level. There is a need for predictability. One of the key aspects in the public sector reform is the utilization of digitalization in public service production and communication between different ministries. Digitalization is also the key to improving the productivity of more traditional businesses and the creation of new business models and net sales. All entrepreneurs should prepare a digitalization plan for their company. There are several good examples. It should be noted that the widely discussed industrial internet is only one part of the digitalization plan.

The flexibility of the labor market should be increased. The sustainability gap should be narrowed, also through pension schemes. More work has to be done and the conditions for labor market peace have to be improved.

Welcome to the Subcontracting Trade Fair in Tampere! Let’s all take advantage of this networking opportunity.

Jorma Turunen
Federation of Finnish Technology Industries