Nordic countries get top scores in OECD’s survey of adult competencies. Now new comparative Nordic research reveals that far from everyone is on the winning team. A surprising 10 percent of the population have poor skills in literacy, numeracy and problem solving using a PC. If nothing is done, many risk being excluded from working and public life. These are the results from the first PIAAC for the Nordic countries which measures adult competencies. The Nordic Labour Journal has been given a preview and features interviews with representatives from the Nordic research network behind PIAAC, from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Estonia.
A large group of youths are not in education, employment or training - so-called NEETs. There is increased focus across Europe on ways to prevent this group of young people from permanently falling outside of the labour market. The Nordic countries have good experiences with finding, motivating and preparing these youths for work, and many of these experiences were discussed at a Copenhagen conference on fighting youth unemployment on 25 March 2015. In this month’s Focus we look at how successful the Nordic measures have been.
Magdalena Andersson and Margot Wallström in Sweden’s feminist government lift the country’s position in this year’s gender equality barometer. For the fifth year running the Nordic Labour Journal measures gender equality using our own barometer. It shows steadily improving gender equality in the Nordic region. This year we focus on churches where women are conquering top positions, Denmark where women are entering the boardrooms and Sweden’s drive for critical innovation with women in the lead.
While Nordic trade unions consider a minimum wage to be a catastrophe, employees in many other EU countries see it as protection against social dumping and unreasonable labour market conditions. We have to debate a statutory minimum wage so that everybody can see the strengths of the Nordic collective agreement system, and the value this represents for employees and for society as a whole, says Bente Sorgenfrey, Bente Sorgenfrey, President for the Council of Nordic Trade Unions.
The sharing economy is a brand new phenomenon which has exploded into fast moving marketplaces with names like Uber, Netflix and Airbnb. It’s all about renting, not owning — be it a car, a boat, a bike or using your own home to make a little extra cash. New online technology creates new opportunities for both consumers and producers, without anyone really knowing the future extent or consequences of this market. The Nordic Labour Journal looks at how the sharing economy is shaping up in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, and how it affects the labour market.
One in four workers in Europe suffer from stress or other psychosocial difficulties according to Eurofound’s latest survey. But the work for a better work environment is a fight against a many-headed troll. The number of challenges typical of modern working life are increasing. The dangers in the service industry are different from those on the factory floor. As work to improve work environments shifts focus to psychological factors and positive measures, new dangers emerge because of new technology, like nano technology.
The tide is turning. Starting this year, Europe’s working-age population is falling, but that does not solve the problem of youth unemployment. Clear political priorities are needed. We have looked at some of the current measures in the Nordic region. We went to North Sweden to see how a small municipality is dealing with the challenges. We have looked at apprenticeship systems in Norway, Denmark and Finland to see what works, and we met Finnish youths who have been given a new chance through the youth guarantee — which is meant to be a model for the rest of Europe. The question remains: is there light at the end of the tunnel?
What happens when the number of communicators keeps growing, while the number of journalists falls and more and more people read news on social media? The Nordic Labour Journal has made its own analysis which explains what is happening. We have also been given access to new research from Sweden, showing policy professionals, communicators and advisors enjoy great political influence. They often see themselves as better politicians than the elected representatives, who are under pressure from a growing number of media. A report from Norway’s Work Research Institute shows how an editorial office’s work environment influences creativity and the quality of the journalism. In Finland cuts in the media has led to a renewed debate over whether the Union of Journalists should accept communicators as members. In Denmark journalists and spin doctors are swapping jobs. Are these tendencies we should be worried about?
Iceland is bouncing back after the hard years following the 2008 crisis. In this month’s theme we tell the story of what happened that day, how Icelanders joined forces to stop anyone from going hungry and to stop hard-hit youths from becoming social outsiders. The worst is now over. New opportunities arise. Unemployment is falling nearly as fast as it rose, and as the economy improves Icelanders want a better life; more pay and more gender equality. Iceland is full of life, new ventures, inventions, a new concert hall and jobs for more people.
The agreement on a common Nordic labour market was signed on 22 May 1954. It means when the labour market goes belly-up in one country, Nordic citizens can look for a future in a different Nordic country. The Nordic Labour Journal hears six stories representing each of the six decades of borderless Nordic cooperation. They provide unique snapshots of time. These are tales of searching for a better existence and of the opportunities resulting from the Nordic countries' comprehensive cooperation. We also tell the story of how the unique agreement came to be as early as in 1954.
Working life goes through great changes from time to time. Globalisation forces jobs abroad, trades face tough competition as a result of liberalisation, new ways of organising work emerge or there is demographic change. Right now technology is having an overwhelming impact on working life. A combination of several technological changes, like robotisation and 3D printing, means the nature of manufacturing and services is changing completely. The Nordic Labour Journal looks at what technology means to working life.
For the first time ever, power is equally shared between men and women in Norway, according to the Nordic Labour Journal’s gender equality barometer. Norway has more women in positions of power, in boardrooms and in work than any other Nordic country. 40 years of Nordic cooperation has inspired progress. Different nations have led the way at different times. Finland has the most female boardroom members in the EU. Sweden is busy getting more women into leadership positions. Denmark’s government sees gender equality as the key to integration. Things are happening elsewhere too. After Italy introduced gender quotas, women have flocked into boardrooms and half of the Renzi government are women.
Poverty, unrest and riots in Swedish suburbs sent strong signals. The Nordic countries are known for their humanitarian attitudes and are attractive shelters for people who flee war and persecution. But the journey towards a better life demands something more. Open borders in Europe has led to a new wave of labour migrants from crisis-hit countries in the east and south, and poses new challenges for the Nordic region. There are growing variations between the countries for how generous or strict rules for immigration should be, but emphasis is now being put on finding ways to make sure those who are allowed to stay are secured the right to a better life where education and work is key.