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Finnish presidency to continue fight against youth unemployment

| Text: Carl-Gustav Lindén

The Finnish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers' wants to spend 2011 to focus on global cooperation, border cooperation, youth, the future needs for labour market competence, extended careers and the prevention of accidents in the workplace.

In light of the continuing economic uncertainty and the powers of globalisation, the presidency will keep a keen eye on the need for skilled and foreign labour. The rapidly ageing population is also a concern in Finland where the population pyramid does not change as a result of immigration, unlike in other Nordic countries. That's why it is considered so important to make people work for longer in that country. 

In light of globalisation it remains important to continue the work to ease travel and work within the Nordic countries. A new expert group has been named by the Council to analyse some 40 different cases of social insurance discrimination - ranging from issues of handicaps to unemployment benefits. The group will present the Council with a report byt the end of this year.

"We need to remove many obstacles, but legislation is often dependent on EU law, so we need to identify what role the Nordic region can play," says  Aila Tommola-Kruse who is head of the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Labour.

Young unemployed

The Finnish presidency will also continue fighting youth unemployment. A meeting of labour ministers in November, during Denmark's presidency, discussed the labour market conditions for youths in the Nordic countries. Included in that discussion were also the parties to the labour market and the Nordic Youth Council. (Read: Meeting of Nordic Labour Ministers: Turning point for youth politics)

A two-day expert seminar in Helsinki is planned for May this year to look at the situation of young people. The meeting aims to identify the models that do work. There is a need to improve young people's employment rate, high quality training must be developed alongside a drive for life-long learning, business' need for skilled workers needs to be identified at an earlier stage and there is a need for increased labour market mobility so that people can seek work where it can be found. 

The second highlight of the year will be a conference on working time arrangements and flexibility, to be held in Helsinki in October.

"Working hours can be used in so many different ways. Working time arrangements can contribute to a prolonged career and in an economic crisis they act as a buffer against growing unemployment. The challenge is to please both employers' and employees' needs for new working time arrangements."

There are parliamentary elections in both Finland and Denmark this year, meaning a minister level meeting will not happen until towards the end of the year. The theme for that meeting is still to be decided.

"The economic situation is brighter now that the recession is over, so we might want to look at how we can fight the structural unemployment."

Aila Tommola-Kruse has been working with Nordic issues since the late 1980s, including a period at the Council of Ministers' secretariat in Copenhagen. She is pleased to see an increased international interest in the Nordic model. There was brisk debate on how to combine economic growth and welfare during January's Davos summit. This focus can give the Nordic multilateral debates a much needed boost.

"This can increase the interest for Nordic cooperation even here in the Nordic region," says Aila Tommola-Kruse.

Read:

Meeting of Nordic Labour Ministers: Turning point for youth politics

 

Tommola-Kruse Aila Tommola-Kruse

Aila Tommola-Kruse heads the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Labour. She has been working with Nordic issues since the late 1980s, and spent time at the Council of Ministers' secretariat in Copenhagen. She is pleased to see an increased international interest in the Nordic model. There was brisk debate on how to combine economic growth and welfare during January's Davos summit. This focus can give the Nordic multilateral debates a much needed boost.

Nordic Finland

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