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The information society offers new opportunities to develop multiculturalism

Sitra’s report Multiculturalism and the Information Society charts the opportunities offered by the information society from the perspective of immigrant workers and multiculturalism.

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Press release 30 March 2004 Immigration and multiculturalism are important factors in competition. However, they have not been sufficiently taken into account in planning the information society. Sitra’s report Multiculturalism and the Information Society charts the opportunities offered by the information society from the perspective of immigrant workers and multiculturalism. The report is written by Mikko Pakarinen. Combining the progress of the information society and multiculturalism constitutes a national challenge and Finland has to find a way to that takes into consideration multiculturalism in its entirety. The advance of the information society offers opportunities in this respect at several different levels and in different ways. According to the report willingness to cooperate exists across ethnic boundaries but how resources and responsibility are to be shared poses a considerable problem. Multiculturalism is not something that different sectors compete over or is even in general regarded as particularly attractive. – Because of the breadth of its implications multiculturalism is a phenomenon that should take precedence over developing the information society. However, since the assignment of measures and resources to promote the latter seems easier, multiculturalism needs to become actively involved in the process of developing the information society, suggests Pakarinen. In the last resort the frictions arising from coordinating the information society and a multicultural community result from insufficient information on both sides. Lack of information slows down the work done by civil servants and immigrants and exacerbates the difficulties of integrating immigrants into Finnish society. The challenges facing the information society are directed towards the individual and his or her personal ability, knowledge and skills when it comes to actively participating in the information society. Measures offered by the information society There exist obvious ways that can be used to help immigrants and to ease the situation of those working with them. The information society offers numerous tools that would help immigrants become integrated into Finnish society, e.g. for study of the Finnish language, flexible communication, participation in the community on an equal footing, and the different uses of services. Different networks and databases make it possible to simplify and coordinate both the immigrant’s ability to access information and to communicate and the civil servant’s task of dealing with him. However, many immigrants still need teaching and advice on the basic skills needed in the information society. At the political level a strategy is needed to come to terms with immigration as an overall phenomenon. In large towns and cities there are different plans to integrate the new arrivals but they are largely problem-based. They do not approach the matter from the perspective of the town’s or city’s competitiveness and the opportunities that the information society offers. Immigrants are not regarded as part of the development of the information society, and foreign skilled personnel, on the other hand, are not looked upon as immigrants. Details of publication Monikulttuurisuus ja tietoyhteiskunta (Multiculturalism and the Information society). Mikko Pakarinen. Sitra Reports 36 ISBN 951-37-4154-0, ISSN 1457-571X. Edita Prima Oy. Helsinki 2004. The report (in Finnish) can be found in electronic form on Sitra’s Internet pages www.sitra.fi/julkaisut. Further details Mikko Pakarinen, Project Leader, MATKA II study. Tel. +358-50-559 0187 Pia Mero, Head of Research, Sitra. Tel. +358-50-322 7860 Kari-Pekka Mäki-Lohiluoma, Project Director, Sitra. Tel. +358-50-364 7883

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