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Young people’s recipe for smoother cross-border movement
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Young people’s recipe for smoother cross-border movement

| Text and photo: Berit Kvam

The Nordic region needs to project a hipper image to young people, educational institutions must become more similar in nature and job opportunities more visible if you want to improve cross-border movement. That was the challenge from young people during a debate on the future of mobility and cooperation in the Nordic region on 25 and 26 August.

There is a long history of mobility between the Nordic countries. The joint labour market is founded on cooperation and a shared understanding of languages, cultures and values. But as the world becomes more accessible and Europe offers scholarships and exotic destinations, how do Nordic neighbouring countries tempt young people to come? How do you improve their opportunities to study and work?   

There is no lack of organisations, institutions, authorities and businesses which want to develop the Nordic cooperation. Yet the offers aimed at improving mobility are so diverse that it is difficult to get an overview and find your way in the jungle of good initiatives. So say several young voices. How do you for instance find available jobs in a different Nordic country, how do they measure education and skills and how do you write a CV tailored for a different country?    

“There is a need for closer cooperation and a mutual recognition of education and skills,” says Sebastian Lukas Bych. He is presenting the experiences and good advice coming out of the discussion group during the panel debate on future job opportunities for young Nordic people.

“If the skills are recognisable, employers also have a greater incentive to hire a person form a neighbouring Nordic country,” he points out. 

Hello Norden and Nordjobb are Nordic institutions working to get young people to move between Nordic countries. Nordjobb mainly helps young people find summer jobs in a different Nordic country, but wish to contribute with more in future, for instance by offering work experience for youths. Hello Norden answers questions about living, studying or working in a different Nordic country, in all Nordic languages including Greenlandic.

Poul Nielson’s review of the Nordic labour market cooperation underlines the need to increase the pressure on removing border obstacles. 

“This is easier said than done,” says Anna Välimaa, and mentions the existing initiatives. She is the project leader for Hello Norden Finland. She has brought with her Leila Malmefjäll who can talk about how difficult it has been to move from Sweden to Finland despite the fact that she has Finnish roots and a Finnish mother. Language and cultural knowledge can be hard to overcome for many, but there are practical challenges on top of that, like applying for jobs in a foreign language and getting your CV translated so that your education and skills are correctly displayed.

Nordic in schools

“There should be a school subject called Nordic for all Nordic citizens,” says Anna Välimaa.

“All children should learn about the other Nordic countries. In Finland we learn about the Nordic region as part of Swedish lessons. When you have secured an education it should be a given that you can get it recognised in another Nordic country. If studies in a different Nordic country could be recognised as part of your degree, and not add to the total time, it would become more attractive to study in a different Nordic country rather than to travel to somewhere exotic. It would also make it easier to move within the Nordic region later.”

Anna Välimaa also highlights the cooperation between the Oulu Employment and Economic Development Office and the job centre in Tromsø, Norway, as an example of cross-border cooperation in the north. They have built up expertise in order to help young people find jobs. In Oulu everyone gets the help they need. That is why it feels safe to travel to Norway to work. 

“My dream is that in future there will be nothing stopping you from taking a job or getting and education in a different Nordic country.”

What is needed for young people preferring the Nordic region to Barcelona? wonders Annastina Sarlin from the Nordic Archipelago Cooperation.

The quality of education means a lot, and your opportunities are better here after you graduate, thinks Karolina Lång from the Norden Association Youth League. 

“The Nordic region has a strong brand. We need to know more about how to value the Nordic labour market. It is much larger than the Finnish one and therefore provides better opportunities,” says Mira Korhonen, project leader at Nordjobb in Finland.

Nordjobb is advised to follow up the youths who have taken part in Nordjobb in order to find out what they have gained through their experience which they would not have got at home.

The exotic Nordic region

“We need to show that the Nordic region can be exciting and exotic. We must build a common Nordic identity. To do that it is important to listen to young people!”

“Totally agree,” comments Sebastian Lukas Bych. He represents The Nordic Youth Council. He studies law and has been interested in Nordic politics for over a year. He has been chosen to present the group’s proposals for future Nordic cooperation and mobility together with representatives for the other discussion groups. 

“We need a Nordic skills card which can be used to find work and education, a kind of streamlined proof of skills. We must shape a concrete policy,” says Sebastian Lukas Bych.

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