Nordic co-operation on working life

Kvinde ved computer ved Nordisk Råds session 2015 i Reykjavik. 

Kvinde ved computer ved Nordisk Råds session 2015 i Reykjavik. 

Johannes Jansson
Working life plays a crucial role in the evolution of the welfare state, in business growth and in the personal development of the people of the Nordic Region. The joint Nordic labour market is one of the cornerstones of Nordic co-operation and involves working together on employment, the labour market, the working environment and employment law.

The Nordic labour markets face significant changes due to factors such as demographic change, globalisation and international competition. The rapid pace at which new technology is being adopted has consequences for demand, skills sets, organisation and the content of our working lives. Although these bring opportunities, they also involve considerable challenges.

Official Nordic co-operation on working life studies, analyses and discusses similarities, differences and best practices related to the challenges faced by all of the countries. It serves as a source of inspiration for national policy and provides opportunities to co-ordinate points of view in areas in which the countries are able to achieve more by working together.

What does Nordic co-operation on working life involve?

Employment and the labour market

Nordic co-operation on employment and labour-market issues focuses on matching demand and supply for qualified labour, encouraging the highest possible employment levels for women and men, and keeping the number of people permanently excluded from the world of work as low as possible. Young people, immigrants and people with few formal qualifications are examples of social groups at particular risk of unemployment. They need skills that match the needs of the Nordic labour market.

Working environment

The objectives for the working environment are to improve the physical and psychological working environment for both women and men, e.g. by preventing work-related illness and injury and by eradicating unacceptable working conditions, social dumping and other illegal practices. This work includes focusing on exchanges of knowledge and experiences on effective working environment strategies and inspection methods. Improving understanding of the positive effects of the working environment on productivity will also draw attention to Nordic solutions and competitiveness.

Employment law

The priority in employment law is the balance between protecting the employee and flexibility in working life, properly regulated conditions, adapting and developing the Nordic tripartite model of industrial relations and EU questions such the early legislation phase, ongoing negotiations, implementation of EU legislation and rulings by European Court of Justice.

What does the co-operation mean for you?

One of the objectives of the official Nordic co-operation on working life is to ensure that the working environment and conditions are more or less the same in all of the Nordic countries. Another one is to make the Nordic labour market as mobile as possible, which will make it easier for individuals to adapt to the demands of a workplace in another Nordic country. The work done by the Nordic countries to promote cross-border freedom of movement in the Region includes adapting regulations and providing clear information about any differences that remain.

Nordjobb offers young people aged 18–30 the opportunity to gain work experience and learn about working life, culture and languages in another Nordic country. Every year, about 750 young people take part in the Nordjobb programme.

Researchers and practitioners in the field of the working environment are able to draw on the overall body of Nordic knowledge and continue their education at a highly specialised level on one of the courses run by NIVA.

The online publication Nordic Labour Journal covers news and background material on the labour market, the working environment and employment law questions associated with the Nordic model for working life. The Journal draws attention to changes such as new technology, digitalisation, globalisation and demography and how they affect working life and place new demands on employees, employers, official bodies, trade unions and employers’ organisations.

Find out more about the Nordic co-operation on working life in the Nordic Council of Ministers’ co-operation programme for working life 2018–2021.

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ action plan for Vision 2030

The action plan describes how the Nordic Council of Ministers will work to achieve the objectives of the vision through a series of initiatives linked to the vision’s three strategic priorities: a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region, and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. There are 12 objectives linked to the strategic priorities. The strategic priorities and objectives govern all the activities of the Nordic Council of Ministers over the next four years. The action plan is divided into 12 sections, each one linked to one of the 12 objectives.