Ávarp félags- og vinnumarkaðsráðherra á norrænni ráðstefnu í Reykjavík um vinnumarkað og heimsfaraldur
Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, félags- og vinnumarkaðsráðherra:
It is a great pleasure to see all of you here today where we will hear about the final results on this important work that OECD has carried out on the Nordic responses to the COVID-19 impact on the labour market. It’s one of the first project financed under the Vision 2030 for a green, competitive and socially sustainable Nordic region.
It is important for the Nordic countries to make comparative studies so we can better understand our reactions, and we can better understand our own labour market characteristics, our decision making and our policy and their impact in times of crisis.
In the report it says “Labour market resilience is crucial not only to limit short-term social costs but also to support labour market and economic performance in the medium to long term. “
I think that this is a key statement here. Our mission should be to increase our resilience, to be better prepared to tackle crises and economic downturns with special focus on preventing the vulnerable groups that somehow always suffers from those periods.
Other results in the report that we can learn from and hopefully implement is a more agile system that can respond quickly when needed and make education systems more inclusive and emphasize life long learning by making it ever more flexible and “attractive” to seek out education. I will make use of these findings in making and renewing policies.
During the pandemic we had to take historic decisions in historic times. We had to take unusual decisions in unusual times. We implemented handmade burdensome restrictions to protect people´s health and that required historic measures to protect people´s income.
The study points out some reasons for a deeper recession on the labour market in Iceland and a longer recovery, compared to the other Nordic countries and other OECD countries.
That reveals one of our challenges which is the fact that our labour market is small, it relies on foreign labour force, which can be hard to keep during crisis, and it also relies on foreign demand for products for example our nature.
One of our dominated industries in modern times is the tourism industry. And some jobs in the tourism industry disappeared during the pandemic while we managed to save other jobs. And the tourism industry highly depends on foreign labour.
The Nordic Labour Market Ministers had the opportunity to discuss the preliminary results of this project in November and I can say that there was a general consensus on both the importance of this work and the importance of the general results that will be presented here today. It was also the first time the Nordic Council of Labour Market Ministers decided to cooperate in that way with the OECD, by comparing in particular the Nordics and the other OECD countries.
In my opinion that is something to build on because OECD provides reliable and professional analyses and comparison that supports ambitious governments and policy makers.
I look forward to learning more about the OECD findings and I hope all of you will have a clearer picture of the Nordic responses to the COVID-19 impact on the labour market after today’s session.