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Down and Out in Post-Nokia Finland

A struggling tech industry offers few options for skilled workers
A Nokia store in central Helsinki
A Nokia store in central HelsinkiPhotograph by Tomi Setala/Bloomberg

When Jouni Lindman went to work for Nokia in 1998, the company seemed unstoppable. The world’s biggest maker of mobile phones and one of Finland’s top employers at the time, Nokia was on its way to becoming Europe’s most valuable company. Then Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, and Nokia’s fortunes turned. In June of last year, Lindman, a manager who oversaw a group of about 100 software professionals around the world, accepted a severance package. The company had gone through several rounds of massive layoffs.

Lindman’s search for a job that would pay him as much as he earned at Nokia came up empty. After enrolling in a heavy-vehicle training course, he signed a contract in May to work as a bus driver in Tampere, about 100 miles north of Helsinki. “I thought I’d make myself useful in any way possible,” Lindman says. “With about 20 years left in my career, I’m willing to bet that drivers will be needed over that time.” He estimates his family’s net income will be close to what it was before his layoff, if his wife gets a job.