We view the Nordic Model as a central and necessary starting point for growth and competitiveness in the Nordic region. For us, this model is a prerequisite for building strong and well functioning welfare states. The Nordic Model has demonstrated that it is possible to successfully combine economic growth and competitiveness with a comprehensive welfare state and high economic equality, even in small, open economies heavily dependent on foreign trade. Some of the key components in this are coordinated salary setting models, social security, active labour market policies and publicly funded education systems.
The Nordic Model and its high degree of labour market regulation through collective agreements is unique, both in a European and global perspective. It has succeeded in creating growth and employment in the Nordic region, as well as leveling income differences and promoting gender equality from a historical perspective. A key aspect of the functioning of the model is cooperation between the social partners and social dialogue. A high rate of trade union organisation, strong and independent social partners, broad coverage of collective agreements, and constructive cooperation and trust between the partners are all necessary for stability, predictability, and social peace. This model provides opportunities to manage structural change and transition, and enjoys a good reputation internationally.
Keeping the Nordic region competitive globally requires proactive industrial policy which promotes economic growth and creates jobs. This means active policy-making in support of industry and business, which attracts investment. This is how the economic conditions for growth are created, which in turn creates jobs. Globalisation, the changing shape of supply chains and moving production mean that the conditions for industry are changing. While competition increases on international markets, a constant structural change is under way which sees consumption and added value driven to an increasing extent by services and immaterial goods, side by side with traditional production. This is why continuous investment in education, skills development and innovation is needed.
Structural transformation, transitions and vocational skills development have always been central tenets of the Nordic Model and its ability to change and develop. We believe that this ability to change and adjust will become even more relevant in future. Our near future holds promises of artificial intelligence, internet platforms, advanced robotics and Big Data. This new technology, along with digitalisation, automation and robotisation will affect both the public and private sectors, and the service sector, retail and industry in equal measure, at every skill and educational level. In order for this new future to function and become a reality in the Nordic region we demand a clear and determined focus on decent work and welfare, regulation and investment.
We have identified the following eight areas as important starting points for sustainable growth and competitiveness in the Nordic region:
- Skills development
- Economic equity
- Gender equality
- The functioning and importance of welfare systems
- Governance – who is in control of developments
- Productivity development – the organisation of work
- The industrial policy perspective – what creates jobs and drives businesses to employ people