Ståhlberg, Relander, Svinhufvud, Kallio, Ryti, Mannerheim, Paasikivi, Kekkonen, Koivisto, Ahtisaari, Halonen and Niinistö!
There was great concern in the Nordic countries a few years ago that they would be hit by an age shock. The fear was an increasing lack of labour as a result of falling numbers of young and middle aged people. But out of the four main demographic drivers, only one developed as expected: Populations are ageing.
For several months – in fact for many years – the Faroese have been waiting for the magical number 50,000. And it is about to arrive! The latest official update says 49,820, the real figure is even closer to 50,000 and it is now only a matter of weeks.
By 2030 Sweden’s countryside could have lost one third of its employable population compared to the year 2000, resulting in lost tax revenues, increased healthcare needs and a lack of labour. Many municipalities now put their hopes in the successful integration of newcomers. Krokom municipality is one of them.
Newcomers can represent an important contribution to the labour markets in the ageing Nordic countries if they learn the language and are given the opportunity to settle into the labour market, especially in more remote areas which for decades have been loosing many of their employable young to the cities.
“This is exciting,” state secretary Christl Kvam told the Nordic Labour Journal as she debuted at the Nordic ministers’ meeting as a representative for the upcoming Norwegian Presidency.
There is an important Nordic debate on how to integrate refugees faster and better into the labour market. At the Nordic ministers’ meeting in Helsinki, the exchange of experiences and new policies inspired discussions and new ways of thinking.
Getting newly arrived refugees quickly into work is a high priority with Roskilde municipality. Experience shows that early and employment-focused activation helps all parties.
Denmark has redoubled its efforts to get newly arrived refugees quickly into working for companies. Earlier they had to learn Danish first.
Women in the Nordic countries participate in the labour market to a greater degree than in any other country, and there are many good examples to be found here. But some glass ceilings remain unbroken, concluded the conference “Global Dialogue on Gender in the World of Work” which was held in Helsinki in late November.
The Nordic countries stand out with higher levels of well-being than anywhere else in the world, explained by the fact that women are expected to be active in the labour market and make an important contribution to household income. Yet men do not understand that women are facing a harder time in the labour market than themselves.
“The process is underway,” comments the former Danish government minister and EU Commissioner Poul Nielsson. In November 2014 he was asked to review the Nordic cooperation on labour market issues. At the labour ministers’ meeting in Helsinki he presented his proposals for reforms and got reactions from the ministers.
“This is not only about their working life. It is about their lives,” says Dag Yngve Dahle, who has written a book on the freedom of expression in working life together with Maria Amelie, called ‘Moderne munnkurv’, or Modern muzzle. They look at what happens to people who have been accused of a breach of loyalty to their employer.
“All this research on collective decision making is important, but it has its limitations. I think far too much has been exaggerated. There is an extremely good relationship between the workers’ representatives and the company leadership,” exclaims Knut E. Sunde, director of industrial policy at the Federation of Norwegian Industries.
People’s perceived level of influence over their own work situation has plummeted in Norway. In seven years the number of people saying they have a lot of influence has fallen from 89 percent to 77 percent. Imported leadership models get the blame.
There are great ambitions to be found in the Nordic region: “Sweden will be a world leader in exploiting the opportunities of digitalisation”. Danish businesses will be “among the best in Europe when it comes to using IT, Big Data and e-commerce to create growth”. 97 percent of Norwegians have access to the internet, Iceland is third in the world for information technology while the Finns’ digital skills are said to be the best in the EU.
There is much talk about digitalisation and smart cities, but it is high time we posed some critical questions around how technology is being used, thinks Malin Granath. In early October she defended her thesis on the subject at the University of Linköping.
At the Solbjerg nursing home, new digital solutions have freed up more time for employees to spend with the residents, and this is just the first phase in a digital revolution. In ten years from now, all of the home’s offices will be gone, predicts the nursing home’s coordinator.
Municipalities, regions and the central Danish government authority will explore new digital opportunities while maintaining citizens’ experience of the public arena as an accessible partner. Many public sector institutions are already well underway.
Finnish commuters are facing a very different journey to work in the future. Many transport sector jobs can disappear, or at least change. New traffic legislation aims to make transport services more flexible, based on the sharing economy and call control. And the self-driving robot buses are just around the corner.