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In focus 2010

Theme: Seeing the human in the work place

In a fast changing working life employers are increasingly looking for people's ability to adapt rather than their grades. To be able to see the individual and the skills found within all ethnic groups is a challenge to both public and private job providers. Soft skills become more important when an organisation must change. Not least at the beginning of a career is it important not to end up on the wrong track. Sweden has introduced a coaching system to help youth find the right job.

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Theme: Opening the Northern borders

People in the Nordic region are used to visa-free travel and a common labour market, while the relationship with Russia has been characterised by closed opportunities. But these are new times. People in the Northern border region want freedom to travel and work in each other's countries. A visa-free zone could be the beginning of the tearing down of those barriers. Jelena Romanov has just got her work permit in Kirkenes and commutes from Zapoljarny. "The time difference means I can leave home at eight o'clock in the morning, spend two hours travelling and passing the border and still be at work for eight Norwegian time," says Jelena Romanov.

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Theme: Extending a helping hand to the jobless

Youth need to get back into jobs or education, or else we risk loosing a generation. It is therefore imperative to create job rich growth. We need to act now, and we need to help the weakest ones in the labour market first. That was the message when the big institutions for development and welfare, ILO and IMF and then the OECD, staged conferences in Oslo recently. Denmark is one of the countries which now tailor help and mentorships in the workplace to those who need it the most. We met several off those who have helped the new Activation Centre scheme become a success. "It is important to us to be a social company, not only for the ones we try to help but for our own good," says Tina Andersen, mentor at the Kvickly supermarket in Middelfart. "It's nice being here, it's like a family. There is room for everything," says David Andersen.

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Theme: Can the Nordic region stay top of the trust league?

World Values Survey puts Nordic countries top of the league when it comes to trust between people. In China leaders are astonished at the level of trust shown by Swedish leaders to their workers. Co-operation between the parties to the labour market is one of the Nordic Model's cornerstones. You can see it every day in work places, in negotiations over salary levels and working agreements between the main organisations and in the tripartite co-operation with the authorities when shaping policies. What happens to this complicated construction if the trust is challenged? Some in Denmark now say the parties' co-operation is threatened by political dictates. We look at why people in Iceland in protest elected a comedian as mayor of Reykjavik, and we see how in Finland researchers claim the welfare society does not include everyone. How does migration and poor integration effect trust in society? In Södertälje 40 percent of the population has foreign heritage, and the challenge is to hold the local society together. The Nordic countries might be top of the trust league, but can they stay there?

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Theme: Europe's youths desperately seeking jobs

Alarm bells are ringing. Youth unemployment is exploding. The consequences of being left behind and falling outside society's norms can be enormous for the individual youth and for society as a whole. The OECD estimates youth unemployment will continue to rise through 2010 and 2011, and urges governments to take immediate action to make sure young people again have something to live from and something to do. Nordic Labour Journal has met young people in the Nordic countries who receive help from the state, young people in Italy who depend on the help of their family and we look at the costs of allowing young people to remain on the outside of the system for shorter or longer periods of time.

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Theme: The hunt for highly skilled labour

How do you remain competitive when everybody wants to attract the highest qualified labour? Nordic Labour Journal has travelled around the world to hear both authorities and migrants state their case. We have taken a close look at Workindenmark in Denmark and in India. We have spoken to Sweden's Counsellor of Labour Market Affairs in Beijing and we've met Indian IT engineers in Helsinki selling their services to Nokia. It looks like a good work environment and good social systems constitute the best bait.

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Theme: Winds of change for integration policies

Europe's migration policies are changing. Asylum legislation is being tightened while borders open up for workers in demand. This tendency was highlighted at the recent EU meeting in Malmö on integration of new arrivals. Global competition and current demographics mean Europe needs manpower. The fight for labour will get tougher before the crisis ends.

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