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Páll Pétursson, Progress Party, Iceland

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Bottlenecks in the labour market? 

Bottleneck problems in the labour market often require long-term solutions such as through changes to wage scales and the introduction of relevant education, regional development or adaptation programmes. In the short term we need to utilise the mobile labour from other countries. In situations of high unemployment, the demand for labour in some sectors always controls the movement of labour. The education sector and labour market authorities will have to try to adjust their labour market measures to some degree as education and vocational training offer to this demand. The most important factor is that the labour force is skilled, mobile and able to adjust to labour market opportunities. The labour market authorities need to support labour market measures that help keep the labour force skilled, mobile and flexible.

A labour market for all?

The labour market is and shall be for everybody who can work and wants to work. In Iceland it has always been the case that almost everyone has the opportunity to work. It is difficult to say what developments on the labour market will mean in this respect. The trend in the demography of the Nordic countries indicates that there will be a shortage of labour in the future which means new opportunities for those like the elderly who do not currently belong to the effective labour force. Distance working is also a good possibility in the future for those who have difficulties finding jobs because of their residence or bad health.

Cooperation within the Nordic…? 

No, cooperation concerning the labour market within the EEA can in no way take over the role which cooperation between the Nordic countries plays today. Cooperation concerning the labour market within the EU/EEA is in many ways a slow process in which you often have to wait for others to reach a conclusion. If we in the Nordic countries can agree on a project, which is often the case, we can reach a conclusion in a very short time. The broad spectrum of the Nordic models is in many ways important in order to control our working life relationships. This is something we can and should contribute within the EEA. 

The role of the public employment? 

The role of the Public Employment Service will clearly be closely related to the trend in the labour market and the structure of society in each country. In addition, any instability on the labour market will also play an important role. Private employment services will be at liberty to take on tasks which firms are willing to pay for. But they are first and foremost concerned with companies who pay for their services and not so much with jobseekers, who do not pay for their services. Many large and powerful companies will without doubt pay for private employment services. But medium sized and smaller companies will only tend to use them in exceptional cases. In those areas where job-seekers and companies need a free service, the PES plays an important role. The important role of the PES, now and in the future, is also to provide a broad spectrum of labour market measures for job-seekers and employers, reflecting the demand for skills in the society of the future and matching the workforce with available jobs.

Answers from:

Ove Hygum, Social Democratic Party, Denmar

Tarja Filatov, Social Democratic Party, Finland

Páll Pétursson, Progress Party, Iceland

Jørgen Kosmo, Labour Party, Norway

Mona Sahlin, Social Democratic Party, Sweden

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