A thriving, but partly segregated labour market

People in Café
Toa Heftiba, Unsplash
The Nordic Region has recovered strongly from the financial crisis. Sweden boasts the highest employment rate in the EU while Iceland has the highest rate in all of Europe. High employment rates for women stand out and remains a basic feature of Nordic labour markets. Finland has seen its labour force diminish in absolute numbers since 2008, while the labour force in all other countries has gone down in relative terms.

In certain sectors, it is difficult for employers to find people with the right competences. But the share of the population with a tertiary education is however increasing, suggesting that the Nordic Region is in a strong position to meet the needs of the labour market of the future.

Unemployment rates are highest in old industrial towns and some sparsely populated areas. In general, jobs tend to move from rural to urban areas and many municipalities are not as resilient to change as the general Nordic trend indicates. Rural populations are also less likely to have higher education than their urban counterparts.

The Nordic model, with its wage structures and low share of unskilled jobs, makes integration into the labour market challenging for newly arrived immigrants.  Integration challenges are also reflected in school performance and gaps between the scores of native-born students and the scores of first and second-generation students are larger than the OECD average in all Nordic countries.

All in all, the labour market in the Nordic Region is doing well but in a continually changing economic landscape, significant challenges remain.

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