Across Denmark 130 grandmothers are sat knitting children’s clothes for the company Mormor.nu. There are customers in New York, South Korea and Australia — and in the Nordic countries. The project is one example of what many were looking for at the major European working life conference Employment Forum earlier this autumn: closer cooperation between the public and private sector and civil society, with everyone contributing with their own resources. The Nordic Labour Journal has been looking at some of the innovative projects in a Europe which desperately needs to think fresh.
For many, part time work can be the solution to the time trap. The debate often focuses on involuntary part time work and especially on women’s role. But the impact part time work has on pensions needn’t be as bad as was once thought, a new study shows. Meanwhile new kinds of part time work spring up as a result of employers’ never-ending quest for flexibility. In the UK so-called zero hour contracts are already common, where there is no set number of hours involved at all.
It is not enough to only focus on the young people themselves if you want to understand the risks they face in working life and limit workplace accidents and injuries. That’s why a Nordic commissioner suggests that politicians should think about launching a vision zero for both young and older people’s work environments. That means the aim is for nobody do die or be injured at work. To achieve this you need engagement, new ways of cooperating and fresh thinking. Kim Jämsén has taken a gap year and rather than slouching on his sofa at home he has taken a job at the SM-Mega call centre in Helsinki. Telephone sales is often the first occupation young people try out.
Many can work, but not all are able to get a job, says Sweden’s Minister for Employment Hillevi Engström. What is needed to help people outside of the labour market into jobs? Is labour market courses offered by job centres a good idea? Are there good examples of businesses which have taken the challenges seriously and which have fulfilled young people’s dream of finding a job? In July the EU Commission launched ‘The European Alliance for Apprenticeships‘ which focused on German experiences. The Arctic Vocational Foundation is a successful Nordic vocational training institution. Under the bright Polar sky the Nordic conversation was given new life through the stories of the people who have been given a new chance here.
Global competition is challenging the Nordic welfare states, spurring the countries on to work together to strengthen competitiveness, growth and job creation. A Nordic report shows how good work environments can be a competitive factor. So the Nordic Labour Journal focuses on work engagement and job commitment and ask: can work engagement improve growth? Talking about it is not enough, say Danish and Norwegian experts – good work environments are born out of action. It looks like the Finnish company Fondia has managed the trick. They have fun at work and was named Europe’s best workplace.
The Nordic countries have chosen different strategies for how to fight social dumping. In Norway a Supreme Court judgement on working conditions in the shipbuilding industry has strengthened the trade unions’ roll. The Danish and Swedish governments are increasing workplaces controls. But there are always two sides to the coin. In Finland people are starting to wonder whether emigration from the Baltics in the long run will undermine the Baltic countries.
26 good examples of measures that work and 600 people wanting to discuss youth unemployment. That was the impressive effort at the meeting of Nordic prime ministers and labour ministers in Stockholm on 16 May. The Nordic Labour Journal was there and this edition focuses on youth outside of the labour market.
Women are not fighting a glass ceiling which can be broken once and for all, says Torild Skard who has studied how women gain power. It is more like a labyrinth, where women must take detours, turn back and go down partly hidden paths. The Nordic Labour Journal examines how gender equality can be improved in the labour market. There are major consequences - a man’s life earnings is two million Swedish kronor (€241.000) more than a woman’s, according to the new Swedish gender equality survey. Many countries are very reluctant to introduce quotas, but Nordic women did at least increase their power somewhat over the past year, according to the NLJ’s gender equality barometer.
Is the Nordic region facing a wave of labour immigrants from crisis stricken Mediterranean EU countries? The Nordic Labour Journal has spoken to job centres, ambassadors, labour immigrants like Iro and her brother Dimitris and looked at statistics. But is the Nordic region attractive compared to other countries for the type of labour employers want? Migration policies represent a balancing act between different interests. But the common European labour market is a saving grace for many.