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A more precise view on inclusion

| By Björn Lindahl, acting editor

It is hard to generalise about labour market inclusion. Everyone who fails to join or who drops out have their own story. But we are getting more detailed comparisons between the different Nordic countries.

In order to illustrate just how big the differences can be, we have interviewed two people in Norway who both have handicaps and who both have big ambitions. One is Kristine Ronæss Årdal, who is wheelchair-bound with cerebral palsy and who wants to be the first person with a severe form of CP who learns how to walk. Torstein Lerhol leads a team of 700 people, despite his mobility challenges which means he can only move one finger. Now he wants to be elected mayor for a Norwegian municipality in local elections in September. 

Their introductions to the labour market were radically different. One was headhunted, the other found a job after 80 failed applications made her advertise her skills on Facebook. 

Refugees, immigrants, youths, older people or people with physical handicaps. They all have their own problems in an increasingly demanding labour market. There is rarely one single solution to the problem of people dropping out. You need to combine education, legislation and subsidies in the best possible way. In order to find out what works, it is often best to look to countries that are similar to your own. It is then possible to study the effect of different measures more isolated from other factors. 

In recent years, researchers have been given a wider access to the unique register-based information which exists in the Nordic countries. They do not need to physically travel to another country to access the registers. To keep all the information relevant, it must be collected in similar ways everywhere. 

Both the report commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers of Labour – about how the Nordics integrate refugees – and the research project led by Rune Halvorsen and Bjørn Hvinden on NEET youths (Not in Employment, Training or Education), are examples of the detailed comparisons which can now be made.

The aim is always to get more people into good jobs, but also to make it as easy as possible for those who want to work in another country. Paula Lehtomäki became the new Secretary General for the Nordic Council of Ministers two months ago, moving from Helsinki to Copenhagen. Like everyone else, she has had to wait for one month for her Danish e-ID. Without it, you cannot open a bank account.

Creating an e-ID that works in all of the Nordic countries and which could be the key to many different digital services, is a priority for her. Perhaps this is so big that one might talk about a new Nordic passport union? Meet the new Secretary General in our portrait! 

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