In 2010, all Nordic countries joined together to find a solution to an extensive cross-border challenge: ascending youth unemployment. Sweden and Finland were most afflicted by the situation – at the time, one in four youths was unemployed. To improve the situation and gain further insight into the problem, a study on youth unemployment was carried out aimed at avoiding future challenges and labor shortage due to demographic changes. The purpose of the report was to map and analyze initiatives that had already been carried out to reduce youth unemployment.
What actually works in practice?
One of the main conclusions from the report is that the Nordic countries should learn from each other by sharing knowledge about previous successful experiences that have reduced youth unemployment. The report identifies several initiatives that can serve as building blocks when developing future action plans to prevent youth unemployment:
- Creating early educational initiatives
- Tailoring the educational system individually
- Conducting efficient follow-ups
- Acting early and targeted on individual target groups
- Combining job seeking activities with other activities that motivates youths
- Establishing more educational opportunities
- Ensuring cross-sector activities
According to Steffen Ovdahl, consultant in Ramboll Management Consulting, one of the most important lessons from the report is that the education sector and the labor market sector are closely linked – for instance, youths that drop out of schools are often marginalized on the labor market later on. Additionally, competence gaps between education and the demands of the working life have to be bridged. Lastly, Steffen Ovdahl accentuates that unemployed youths often experience several and interrelated problems and this requires combined measures between several agents.
Exchange of experiences
The purpose of the report was to contribute to exchanges of experiences on high levels in the Nordic countries. Among other things, it made for discussions at the Nordic Conference on Action on Youth Unemployment in 2010. In this connection, Inger Støjberg, previous Minister for Employment in Denmark, made the following official comment on the report:
- I am glad that we now have a joint Nordic mapping and analysis of our countries' measures against youth unemployment. At our Nordic Council of Ministers meeting in November, my colleagues and I have put youth unemployment on the agenda and we intend to exchange experiences and hopefully learn from each other. There is no doubt that we face similar challenges.
At the meeting in November 2010, the Nordic ministers decided to fight youth unemployment by strengthening cross-disciplinary measures. Consequently, a higher focus has been put on education, internships and involvement of the labor market. In this connection, coordination on government level was accentuated as very important.