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Editorial: Youth on the edge

| Text: Deputy editor Björn Lindahl

Youth unemployment is a problem to which the open Nordic labour market should be part of the solution. ‘Jobbresan‘ (the Job Journey) organised by Nordic exchange programme Nordjobb is an exciting attempt at removing the remaining obstacles.

Since the start in 1985, Nordjobb has given young people between 18 and 28 the chance to work in another Nordic country. It has expanded the experience through various cultural activities and the togetherness which is created between Nordic workers, contributing to strengthening the open Nordic labour market. 

Nordjobb is mainly financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, Föreningarna Norden, participating employers and national labour authorities. Since the start, 21,000 Nordic youths have found summer jobs thanks to Nordjobb.

Yet so far neither those finding work through Nordjobb nor the youths who move countries on their own accord have come from a pool of unemployed people. A mapping of Nordic cross-border commuters showed only 1.4 percent of Swedish youths who moved to Denmark and Norway were on some kind of unemployment benefit. 

This summer Nordjobb has tried to also help youths who are unemployed to benefit from the open Nordic labour market. Together with the public employment service and the Swedish municipality of Söderhamn, 300 kilometres north of Stockholm, Nordjobb is giving 80 youths the chance to travel to Oslo and look for work. Before they go they receive a four week course and they get free accommodation for the first few weeks in Norway. After that they must stand on their own two feet.

This is one of the projects which should be included in a data bank of good youth employment projects which the Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues has been commissioned to establish. The report ‘Youth on the edge’ highlights one of the biggest challenges: young people who don’t have work and who are not in any kind of education. That group now represents 5 to 10 percent of all Nordic 15 to 24 year olds.

There are big differences between the Nordic countries when it comes to how youth unemployment is being fought politically. Denmark is perhaps the country with the most comprehensive and intensive youth policy. Yet youth unemployment has risen steadily there too, trebling in four years. Negotiations between the social partners for a ‘youth initiative’ have broken down, reports Marie Preisler from Copenhagen, but the government still promises action. 

We wish all of Nordic Labour Journal’s readers a very good summer!


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