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Ove Hygum, Social Democratic Party, Denmark


Bottlenecks in the labour market?  

We have in recent years seen a development in Denmark with economic growth and historically low levels of unemployment without this having led to serious bottleneck problems on the labour market. The regional labour market councils and the regional public employment services monitor the development on the labour market and are in a position to detect any possible signs of development of bottlenecks and take appropriate action in the form of training/education activities and other measures.

Denmark has a stop for immigration. In special cases, companies may be given permission to import highly qualified labour. We have recently introduced an intensive reform of the adult vocational education and continuing education system in Denmark.

The purpose has been to simplify the system and especially to improve the skills and qualifications of those groups with the lowest educational background. Education/training and development of competence is an on-going process and I am sure that our education and training systems will be able to meet the challenges posed by the information based society. 

A labour market for all?  

One of the top priority aims of the Danish labour market policy in recent years has been to create what we call "an inclusive labour market" - a labour market with room for all. The knowledge-based society makes new requirements to the labour force and there may - as indicated in the question - be a risk that this may lead to greater inequalities. It is our responsibility as politicians - and in cooperation with the social partners and other actors on the labour market - to ensure that this will not happen. Education and training - lifelong learning are keywords, also in this connection.  

Cooperation within the Nordic…?  

No, I don't think that the cooperation in the labour market field within the European Union will take over the role of the cooperation among the Nordic countries. We have had a cooperation in this field for many years within the framework of the Nordic Council of Ministers and I am convinced that this will continue.

The characteristic feature of the Nordic countries is that we all - although to varying degrees - have a deep-rooted tradition for involving the social partners in the regulation of the labour market - what we call the Nordic Model. Fortunately, the development within the European Union seems to be going away from "hard law" towards "soft law", i.e. recommendations and similar instruments which only lay down a general framework. This is a development which I warmly welcome.  

The role of the public employment?  

The public employment service (PES) will also in the future be the pivot of labour market policy initiatives in Denmark. It is important to ensure that the PES is constantly developing its products and services so that it will be able to solve the problems on a dynamic labour market. We see a strong expansion in the private internet- based job placement market; this promotes mobility and transparency on the labour market. But we also need a public, neutral PES-system which will help people to find a job and offer them other services. The PES will continue the development of internet-based placement activities and utilise the possibilities for offering the citizens other electronic self service instruments.

Answers from:

Ove Hygum, Social Democratic Party, Denmar

Tarja Filatov, Social Democratic Party, Finland

Páll Pétursson, Progress Party, Iceland

Jørgen Kosmo, Labour Party, Norway

Mona Sahlin, Social Democratic Party, Sweden


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