Dear Reader,

 

 

Utbildning Nord, based in the Arctic region of the Nordic countries, is an example of a unique co-operation process, with three Nordic countries organising labour market-oriented adult education together. 80% of the participants, who are long-term unemployed and lack educational qualifications, either end up in employment or go on to pursue studies somewhere else.This is made possible by close co-operation with the local labour market, a consistent use of validation/recognition of previously acquired competences, and an individual-based approach to pedagogy.

Adult education often becomes a driving force for local development or the establishment of new networks. In Estonia, however, one significant problem lies in that the Nordic Region and other European countries offer more attractive salaries and living conditions. The Estonian government has made a concentrated effort to train local welders in order to satisfy the needs of the Estonian ship building industry, only to see them take jobs abroad. Estonia itself has had to import qualified workers from countries such as Ukraine, Romania and China, even though unemployment figures are high in Estonia.

This issue of DialogWeb contains reports from Malmö and Sønderborg. In the town of Sønderborg in South Jutland people are sick and tired of the debate concerning the remote areas of Denmark. During the past few years, determined efforts have been made to create new forms of co-operation across sectors with new, common goals in mind. The results include a new science park, an exxtension of the university, better conditions for culture, and an ambition of becoming an European Capital of Culture together with German Schleswig.

15 years ago Malmö was a city in a crisis, today it is filled with faith in the future. It is difficult to find an empty plot of land to build on, and Malmö University attracts youngsters both from the city and from other parts of Sweden. Unemployment is still high particularly among young people but many commute over the Øresund Bridge to work in Copenhagen. Furthermore, the City of Malmö invests considerable monetary resources in flexible adult education in order to reduce local unemployment figures, as businesses are desperate for qualified workers these days.

Comfort is more important to Norwegians than acting wisely when it comes to the climate challenge, says Norwegian climate researcher Hans Olav Hygen. In 1992, the Brundtland Commission participated in inventing slogans such as ”Think globally, act locally!” but since then, Norway has constantly increased its CO2 emissions. Hygen calls for liberal adult education and other organisations to dramatically intensify their efforts to create an awareness of the need for new policies. Today, politicians do not have the courage to challenge the Norwegian people to abandon their comfort zone.

The advisory centre Ålands Hushållningssällskap has had more luck in their quest to promote a green agenda. The organisation offers advice, courses and study trips to more than 200 farms, and other private businesses make use of their training too. The aim of the organisation is to support the development of agriculture and to gather more information to enable farms to become both more profitable and more environmentally friendly. Within ten years, the proportion of area under organic farming has increased from 9,3% to 23,6%.

In the Faroe Islands, too, green solutions based on science are being developed at a high level. Young engineers and scientists at a company called GreenSteam have developed a method of calculating the energy used on each individual ship, thereby giving valuable information about possible energy optimisation. To date they have sold their solutions to shipping companies over the world and currently view Asia and Europe as important markets. However, the company will continue to be based in the Faroes, giving local job opportunities to a growing number of highly educated Faroese.

The Nordic Region has faltered when it comes to developing policies and cooperation aimed at addressing the  historic challenge of a dramatically ageing workforce that will face us in the coming decades. This is demonstrated by a study conducted by the NVL’s network Older Workers in the Nordic Countries (OWN). Among other things, trade unions need to be involved in considering how we can secure older workers opportunities to participate in continuing training and education to the same extent as younger colleagues.

Finally, you will get to meet Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir from Iceland, who was among the participants of a Nordic working seminar on education and change organised in Lund (Sweden) in September. Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir urges us to stop and think and to dare to slow down. It is important not to allow ourselves to be swept up in international trends which do not necessarily suit Nordic traditions, she points out.