The Nordic Council of Ministers wants to help the people of Iceland. On Friday, 6 March, the ministers for Nordic cooperation announced their intention to spend an extra DKK 14 million over a two-year-period on Iceland. The purpose of the extra grant is to support Icelanders and make scholarships available to students and researchers who want to study or work in other Nordic countries. For many Nordic residents, a trip to a neighbouring country is the first step out into the world. When crisis strikes, banks go bankrupt, order books gape empty and thousands of jobs are lost, it is comforting to know that our neighbours still need hard-working hands and brains. But what is the situation like in the rest of the Nordic region? Iceland is not the only one in trouble. In the latest issue of Analys Norden, a Finnish and a Swedish journalist describe how unemployment rates in Finland and Sweden have risen since the final quarter of 2008. This issue of DialogWeb focuses on free mobility of labour. Can it help us?
This issue’s Danish article takes up the various cultural and political codes that are time-consuming to decipher. For instance, time is used to measure quantity in one country and quality in another. This month’s article from the Åland Islands reports that a considerable amount of time was needed before a lawyer from Rumania, a nurse from the Philippines and a teacher from Latvia could find employment in their respective professions. The Swedish contribution presents interviews of people who have worked or continue to work abroad, thereby gaining experience that is important to both personal and professional development. DialogWeb’s Baltic editor gives us an insight into how different the reasons behind working abroad can be. And the results.
So, the opportunity is there. As the Norwegian article tells us, a common Nordic labour market is not just theory. Moreover, the Nordic Council of Ministers maintains various schemes designed to promote mobility and to make it easier for citizens to work in another Nordic country. Two examples of such measures are Nordjobb, which arranges summer jobs for young people between 18 and 28, and Hallo Norden, the NCM’s information service for individuals and businesses.
However, not all is joy and bliss. Many obstacles still remain. Some of them are mentioned in this month’s portrait, which introduces Mirjam Lukola from Finland. As well as cultural and political differences, there are dissimilarities in legislation and regulations, social benefits and support forms available. Consequently, the Council of Ministers has created a database listing obstacles that can arise. A precondition for future development of the common Nordic labour market is that we dismantle the barriers and focus on the opportunities and advantages provided by mobility.
Enjoy this month’s DialogWeb!