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Proposals to make adult education mandatory throughout the Nordic Region

The Nordic governments should make adult education and further training mandatory for all employees in the Nordic Region and co-operate with labour-market partners to put training programmes into place. This is a proposal by former Danish minister and EU Commissioner Poul Nielson as part of a strategic review of the Nordic labour market.

14.06.2016

Dagfinn Høybråten, Poul Nielson, and Jari Lindström at a press conference in Helsinki. Photo: Laura Kotila/Prime Minister’s office

Photographer
Laura Kotila/Norden.org

Nielson, who has conducted this strategic review on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers, submitted his findings on Tuesday to the Finnish Minister for Justice and Labour and chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Labour, Jari Lindström. The report contains 14 proposals on how the labour market can be developed through Nordic co-operation.

Nielson points out that although much is already being done to boost adults’ skills, “more of the same” is not enough to overcome the challenges of globalisation, digitalisation, and technological development. The combination of rapid technological development with the gradual increase in retirement age further increases the need for new forms of education.

“When it comes to education, new thinking is needed to safeguard the Nordic Region’s competitive edge going forwards. This is why a visionary decision needs to be made regarding the development of a shared model for mandatory adult education,” says Nielson.

Raising the status of the psychological work environment

In addition to employee training and skills, other examples of challenges in the Nordic labour market are the work environment, migration, and gender equality. The report states that the Nordic countries should increasingly sign up for joint solutions in these areas in order to benefit from the Nordic Council of Ministers’ co-operation with international stakeholders and Nordic labour market organisations.

According to Nielson, the status of the psychological work environment must be raised both in terms of research and from a legal perspective. In concrete terms, the Nordic countries should consider the possibility of harmonising legislation within this area so that the psychological work environment is on an equal legal footing with the physical work environment.

The report concludes that at a time when migration is increasing sharply, the Nordic Region should keep the core values of the Nordic labour market alive. This is important from a gender equality perspective, especially in relation to immigrant women. A brief introduction to working life is a key element in integrating immigrants and turning migration into a positive resource. 

The report states that gender equality should be more clearly emphasised within the various sub-areas of Nordic labour market co-operation.

When it comes to education, new thinking is needed to safeguard the Nordic Region’s competitive edge going forwards. This is why a visionary decision needs to be made regarding the development of a shared model for mandatory adult education

More active and coherent EU policy needed

Nielson sees the potential for the Nordic countries to actively create a common policy and to influence the substance of EU processes, rather than immediately responding to EU initiatives and rules as they do now. This can be achieved by increasing the understanding of the Nordic Model in the dialogue with the various EU institutions.

Although Nordic labour market co-operation has been overshadowed by EU affairs, the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dagfinn Høybråten, notes that many global players look towards the Nordic Region in their efforts to find solutions to labour market challenges.

“We hope that the report’s proposals will give Nordic labour market co-operation a boost. These issues are high on the governments’ agendas,” says Høybråten.

In the autumn the Nordic Council of Ministers for Labour, under the guidance of Jari Lindström, will start to consider the report in earnest.

“Nielson’s report clearly demonstrates the shared forms of work, norms, and values of the Nordic labour market. It is positive that the labour market has now been extensively studied from a Nordic perspective,” says Lindström.

The report, The Labour Market in the Nordic Region, is based on more than a hundred discussions conducted by Nielson with, among others, ministers, MPs, civil servants, researchers, and labour market organisations throughout the Region, as well as with the EU, the ILO, and the OECD. This is the third major strategic review at a Nordic level.

Read the report in full:

Contacts

Ulf Andreasson
Phone +45 29 69 29 60
Email ulan@norden.org

Heidi Orava
Phone +45 21 71 71 48
Email heor@norden.org

Poul Nielson, tel.: +45 24 26 14 17 e-mail poulnielson@gmail.com