Finland: Nordic employment ministers to discuss the future of work and the welfare model

NordenBladet — At their video conference on 2 June 2021, the Nordic ministers of employment will exchange views over the findings of the extensive Future of Work research project. The final report of the project found that, in the long term, the Nordic welfare model will be challenged by global megatrends such as digital transformation, the ageing of the population and climate change.

This informal ministerial meeting will be hosted by Finland, who holds the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2021. Representatives of the social partners have also been invited to participate. Finland will be represented by Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen as chair the meeting and Minister of Social Affairs and Health Anna-Kaisa Pekonen.

The challenges of the transformation of work can be turned into opportunities
The study of the Nordic Council of Ministers and the FAFO research foundation examined how the Nordic welfare model and high employment could be maintained in the changing labour market, seen that high employment actually stands as a guarantee of the welfare model. As a potential threat, the researchers identified the increasing division of the labour market with the growing number of atypical employment relationships and job descriptions. It is anticipated that unemployment may rise among the low-skilled and their working conditions may deteriorate.

“The education system must lend support to people in these changing circumstances. Continuous learning is a right and also a necessity. Learning, however, not only takes place at educational institutions but, increasingly, at workplaces. We need to involve all parties: workers, employers, policy-makers and education providers,” Minister of Employment Haatainen notes. Despite all the challenges facing the Nordic social welfare model, the study found that it can be the solution to the emerging problems.

”Nordic welfare countries are founded on a social security system, which is now being challenged by transformation of work. In order to ensure the wellbeing of people we must take care not to leave anyone without support. By investing in social security we invest in a functioning and equal labour market at the same time,” says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pekonen.

“Strengthening the welfare state is in the interests of all the Nordic countries. I am positive that we can turn the challenges of the transformation of work into an opportunity by improving on the existing support structures and by investing in skills. A skilled workforce can create new products and services that, in turn, will lead to new innovations and pave the way for new growth,” Minister Haatainen adds.

Working life-related issues will further be addressed at three conferences to be held by Finland in autumn 2021 as part of its Presidency. They will look at the Nordic wage formation system, the future of work notably from the climate change perspective, and the promotion of inclusive labour markets. A formal meeting of Nordic employment ministers will take place in November 2021.

 


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