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What will be the future of remote work post-pandemic?

– Evidence suggests that increased remote work is here to stay, but a large-scale shift towards a “remote first” mindset looks unlikely, says Senior Research Fellow Linda Randall from Nordregio. She is the lead author of Nordic Knowledge Overview on remote work published this week. The mindset matters when considering the effects of remote work for different places; influencing the extent to which workers can distance themselves from their workplaces. At the same time, we do see some evidence of spatial changes. The number of daily commuters is still well below pre-pandemic levels and migration patterns suggest increased attractiveness of outer urban municipalities, smaller cities, and rural areas within commuting distance of larger cities. From a planning perspective, a range of interesting questions emerges regarding the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of increased remote work. – Most workers do not have the possibility to work remotely and, even for those who do, the advantages and disadvantages will differ between groups. An increasing tendency to split one’s time between two or more municipalities calls into question existing frameworks around taxation and service provision, Randall continues. While remote work may reduce the need for travel, more knowledge is needed about the indirect impacts before assuming favourable environmental outcomes overall. The Nordic knowledge overview was the first part of the project and now you have a chance to get involved and be part of our study’s next part:  How is increased remote work effecting your municipality or region? Let us know here (you can answer in English or any Nordic language): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/planningandremotework This report is the first outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. The project is part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning.

Nordregio at the “Migrants and the Nordic Labour Market” conference

Nordregio Senior Research Fellow Nora Sánchez Gassen participates at the “Migrants and the Nordic Labour Market: In the Shadow of the Pandemic” conference, presenting the recently published report “Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.  The report revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has made social and economic inequalities even more pronounced across the Nordics. In all the countries, foreign-born people have experienced a higher unemployment increase than their native-born peers.  “Immigrants with low educational attainments face the strongest challenges in finding employment in the Nordic labour markets. As we move out of the pandemic, our focus should be on supporting this group in obtaining new skills and competencies that are in demand on the labour markets,” says Nora Sánchez Gassen, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio. The conference, organised by the Nordic Welfare Centre, aims to bring together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in search of sustainable solutions and promote an exchange of experiences between the Nordic countries.  Read more about the conference here. Read the report here.

New Report: COVID-19 increased the employment gap in the Nordic labour markets

A new study by Nordregio shows that the pandemic has increased social and economic inequalities in the Nordics. In all countries, foreign-born employees have lost their jobs to a larger extent than their native-born peers, especially individuals born outside of the EU, with lower levels of education. But some industries have been thriving during the pandemic and now employ more immigrants than before. The report “Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” reveals a somewhat complex picture when comparing the Nordic countries, and discusses how to move forward. “Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, were already facing challenges in integrating immigrants into their labour markets, especially those with low education. The COVID-19 pandemic enhanced these challenges even further. Action is needed to ensure that those who lost their jobs during the pandemic do not end up in a situation of long-term unemployment,” says Nora Sánchez Gassen, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio. The authors underline the need to quickly reinstate and accelerate on-site vocational training combined with language courses for recently arrived and other unemployed immigrants, to compensate for the less effective online courses offered during the pandemic. If immigrants can obtain skills and competencies that are required or in high demand on the labour market, their chances to find employment should increase. “We can see that many jobs were lost as a consequence of the pandemic, especially in the hospitality and retail industries. But we have also seen an increase in jobs in certain industries, like for instance utilities services. And it seems that the foreign-born population is a substantial part of that increase,” says Oskar Penje, Cartographer at Nordregio. In the report, researchers stress that the current crisis has also underscored the need for uniform social insurance systems. Statistics from Norway show that immigrants from new EU member countries in Central…

Rediscovering the assets of rural areas

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the public attitude toward the rural areas has significantly changed. Peripheries became a refuge for maintaining health, wellbeing, strengthening community ties and local economies. This was clearly highlighted by experts from the Nordic and North Atlantic research organisations in the Nordic Talks discussion hosted by Nordregio. The word “peripherality” is often associated with negative meanings, e.g. under-developed, slow, backward and remote. However, as the study “COVID-19 Economic Impacts & Recovery in the Northern Periphery & Arctic” suggests, the pandemic has challenged the way many see rural and peripheral regions and revealed peripheral factors that have been advantages in the crisis. Well-being and resilient places during the crisis “We have seen for the first time in many years that population is coming back to rural areas for a lot of different reasons. Covid-19 has accelerated that because of the huge amount of extra flexibility in terms of work practices – where people might live and work, how they can combine commuting and working from home,” says Liam Glynn, a practicing GP (community doctor) in an Irish village of just over 250 people, and also Professor of General Practice, School of Medicine at Limerick University, Ireland, and lead partner for the CovidWatch-EU-NPA project. Some factors that define peripherality, such as close-knit communities, adaptation to the challenges of remoteness and pluralistic life and work patterns, have helped peripheral communities to respond more effectively to Covid-19. As Liam Glynn pointed out during the discussion, this response had more positive effects on the health and local economies of rural areas than of many urban centres. Peripherality has demonstrated its resilience factor for local economies. Rural communities have noticed, that many are seeking to move to rural or remote areas as good places to live in. “Our research across the Nordic periphery…

Nordregio contributes to a new book on the future of EU Cohesion Policy

European Union (EU) Cohesion Policy remains vital for enhancing regional economic growth and reducing socio-economic disparities between European regions, particularly those regions facing industrial decline or in isolated rural areas. To shed light on ongoing and future challenges, a new book, ‘EU Cohesion Policy and Spatial Governance’ has been published, including a chapter by Nordregio. The book examines the economic, social, and political impacts of EU Cohesion Policy within different policy and planning fields. It identifies the multifaceted and dynamic nature of the policy and shows how it is interlinked with other policies, targeting unresolved questions of strategic importance in territorial governance, urban and regional inequalities, and social aspects and wellbeing. In a contributing chapter, Nordregio Senior Research Fellow, Dr. John Moodie, explores the role of EU marine spatial planning (MSP) policies and practices in creating greater coherence within European sea basins. “The chapter argues that while EU MSP initiatives have helped build social capital and consolidate networks, particularly between national planners, more permanent transboundary MSP structures and cross-sector collaboration are needed if there is to be increased alignment and coherence in MSP in the future”, says Dr. J. Moodie. The Nordregio contribution builds on recent projects including, Baltic SCOPE, Pan Baltic Scope, and Bonus Basmati, which examined the nature of governance and stakeholder engagement in transboundary MSP processes.

Why is Nordic co-operation struggling during the pandemic?

Insights on Covid-19 impacts from the perspectives of cross-border communities During Covid-19, free movement of people and services, and trade across borders has been drastically disrupted. Despite existing co-operation agreements, the Nordic countries took uncoordinated actions to protect themselves. Border closures have heavily affected lives in border communities. How could Nordic co-operation recover after the pandemic by integrating the resilience approach and focusing on cross-border communities? Nordregio – Nordic Institute for Regional Development – launches a report that gives an overview of the situation in Nordic border communities following border closures. Results point to the need for a quick recovery and re-engagement in the Nordic Vision 2030, which states that the Nordic Region is to be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. Fragility of border communities and Nordic co-operation Since the introduction of the Nordic Passport Union in 1954, long before the establishment of the Schengen Area, Nordic citizens could travel without passports and reside freely in any Nordic country. Virtually borderless societies established strong connections with neighbouring countries. This allowed people to easily access goods, services and larger labour markets across Nordic countries. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries took unilateral actions to protect themselves, moving away from the Nordic Vision. Since then, border closures inflicted significant social, economic and political impact on the border regions: ‘Hard‘ borders re-emerged and border guards were deployed to stop border crossings. Border closures separated families and friends, and disrupted access to work, education and basic services. The closed Svinesund bridge connecting Sweden and Norway and a fence erected in the middle of Victoria Square between Haparanda and Tornio (Sweden-Finland) created a shock reaction in the communities which haven‘t experienced anything like it since World War II. Great economic losses resulted from a sudden absence of border shoppers…

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Open call for picture submission

Help Nordregio to visualise life in the Nordic cross-border areas during COVID-19 Do you live in a Nordic cross-border area? Or have you visited any of these areas before or during the pandemic? Maybe you took a bunch of pictures there? The cross-border communities are facing many challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic and closed borders. Life is not the same any more – many have had to change their daily life and work routines. Nordregio researchers are working on several projects in relation to this situation and you will hear about them very soon. To complement the studies and raise awareness about the current challenges, we would like to ask you to contribute with pictures from Nordic cross-border regions. Guidelines for submission: The submitted picture is made by the person who is submitting; One person can submit up to 5 pictures; The pictures are taken in cross-border areas in the Nordics; The caption describes the location, time and situation portrayed; If people are portrayed in the picture, and their face is recognizable, their signed consent to publish a picture should be provided; If people in the picture are under 18 years old, the parents’ signed consent to publish the picture should be provided; The pictures size is min 1 MB – max 16 MB; The picture formats are jpg, jpeg, png. Share your pictures by the 5th of March! The pictures will be used to illustrate Nordregio’s scientific publications and communications material related to the studies. The submissions are not subsidized but a clear reference to the author will be made. If you have any questions or concerns, please, contact vaida.razaityte@nordregio.org

Nordregio is hiring: Head of GIS Department

Nordregio is inviting applications for a senior position as Head of GIS Department. Working at Nordregio means an opportunity to become part of a truly international research environment with a focus on sustainable regional development in the Nordic region and beyond. It offers significant career development potential in terms of enhancing your competences through applied and policy relevant research, achieving an international network of contacts, as well as getting extensive experience in team and project management. You will also get rich opportunities to collaborate with regional and municipal stakeholders in the Nordic countries. Nordregio is currently seeking a new Head of GIS Department with: Expertise in GIS, geo-data, quantitative analysis, and applied research in the field of regional development. Experience in leading a team and managing projects as well as a successful track record in grant applications. Knowledge in geographies and socio-economic trends in the Nordic Region and beyond. A drive for working in teams and in an international applied research environment. Eagerness to present and disseminate results to different stakeholder groups, both orally and in written format. Competences and qualifications As Head of GIS Department, you both lead and manage the GIS-team by planning and organising tasks and activities, communicate with each team member and contribute to their development. You are also a project manager with responsibilities to attract, initiate and lead externally funded research and innovation projects. The geographic scope of your field of interest includes a European and international perspective and expert knowledge in at least one of the Nordic countries. We appreciate abilities in external networking and in communication with stakeholders. Internally we appreciate analytical and creative skills, complemented by abilities to both cooperate and work on your own. For this position, you have at least 6 years of relevant work experience and an extensive network…

Farewell interview with Nordregio’s Director Kjell Nilsson

At the end of January, Dr Kjell Nilsson is retiring after eight years as the director of Nordregio. Under his leadership, the institute has grown from 30 to more than 50 employees and has more than doubled its turnover – thereby making Nordregio the largest institute under the Nordic Council of Ministers. Before retreating towards retirement and some well-deserved retirement days with the family in Skåne, Nilsson looks back at his career with fond memories and leading Nordregio as one of his greatest achievements. But he ensures us that even though quieter days are on the horizon he has no intentions of leaving work life entirely. Nilsson’s achievement to lift Nordregio to its current altitude is undoubtedly thanks to his strategic and persistent work to strengthen the institute’s role within the Nordic collaboration and to further expand its research portfolio with more European projects. Thanks to an increased number of assignments from the Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordregio currently serves eight out of the twelve policy sectors, and the number of European projects is on the rise. “I hope that Nordregio continues to develop towards a Nordic equivalent to the OECD, but that is something that the Nordregio’s new director Rolf Elmér, the employees and the board members should decide”, Nilsson paints his vision for Nordregio. When it comes to the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers, he shares his insights on how to make it more effective based on his extensive experience: “The Nordic Council of Ministers needs to strengthen its muscles through a clearer division of labour between the institutes and the secretariat in Copenhagen. The secretariat should concentrate on the political side and the governance of its institutions and leave the project activities to the institutes”, Nilsson states. Looking back, Nilsson shows gratitude for all the…

Matching skills for future labour market

Regions and regional labour markets are facing many challenges such as the ageing population and lack of skills, digitalisation and automation of the economy along with the current Covid-19 crisis. Education and skills are cornerstones for contemporary societies in trying to deal with these changes.  The project “Skills Policies – Building Capacities for Innovative and Resilient Nordic Regions” has analysed how Nordic regions work with skills assessment and anticipation, skills development and skills governance. Which skills will be needed in future? And what are the enabling and hampering factors for skills development? We are happy to share our main findings in a report and a policy brief, including recommendations for policymakers on how to create skills ecosystems for resilient societies. The topic was also featured in the third session of Nordregio Forum this year. The project is a part of the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017-2020.

Stronger cross-border cooperation after the pandemic

Cross-border activities came dramatically to a halt in the spring of 2020 as a result of measures adopted to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. The ability to work, socialise, do business and use services across borders is an integral part of daily life in border communities all across the Nordic countries and Europe. Since the pandemic hit, border communities have faced extraordinary challenges as national borders were suddenly closed and various other restrictions were put in place. These obstacles were at the centre of attention at an online event “Strengthening cross-border communities: Lessons from Covid-19” organised by Nordregio together with the Bothnian Arc and Svinesund cross-border committees on the 12th November 2020. By Páll Tómas Finnsson, Communications consultant at Finnsson & Co Increased awareness of the value of cross-border cooperation “In times of crisis, it’s always possible to find opportunities,” said Martin Guillermo Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions. He gave a European perspective on the challenges facing border regions, not only because of the pandemic but also in light of political developments such as Brexit and the increasing nationalism throughout Europe. In his talk, Ramírez emphasised that the current challenges should be regarded as an opportunity to further boost cross-border collaboration in the future. “Many of the nation states in Europe decided to close their borders to contain the pandemic, but in some cases, they were reopened less than 24 hours later because of the high level of interaction in the border areas,” he explained. According to Ramírez, the situation has brought the importance of integrated border communities higher up on both the national and European agendas. “This represents an important turn of events, considering that we started the year with the announcement that there would be a budget reduction for cross-border cooperation in…

Nordregio welcomes a new Director in February!

2021 will bring a new Director for Nordregio, as its current one, Kjell Nilsson, will retire. Rolf Elmér will assume the role, his mandate starting in February. Elmér brings long experience from research institutions, organisations and the private sector. He has worked in top leadership roles at e.g. Carl Bro Energikonsult and Sigma Exallon and Svenskt Näringsliv, working with regional policy in Southern Sweden. For more than eight years, he has facilitated dialogue with politicians to improve labour market and business policies. As a spare-time occupation, Elmér works since 2011 with Miljöbron, a non-profit association that strives to connect students with companies focused on sustainability projects. Rolf Elmér holds a doctorate in physics from Lund University since 1996 and an Executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics, obtained in 2004. His interests and competencies are varied, but focused on societal development through sustainable solutions and policy within environment, energy, innovation and digitalisation, Elmér is 54 years old and currently resides in Skåne, outside of Lund, together with his wife, Tina.

“Radical, equal, innovative and attractive” – The future for rural Europe?

A vital countryside is “attractive to all age groups and satisfying to live, work and spend leisure time in..”: This is how Slovenian rural actors envisage the rural future when opinions were gathered in the Horizon2020-project SHERPA to contribute to the EU’s Long-term Vision for Rural Areas. The input from the rural actors in 20 European countries has been sent to the European Commission and will be discussed within a European platform this week. SHERPA (Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors) is a four-year Horizon2020 project (2019-23) gathering knowledge to contribute to the formulation of recommendations for future EU policies relevant for rural areas. It engages actors in science, society and policy in Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs). Twenty MAPs were established in early 2020, distributed across Europe. Initial activity of these Platforms was to identify local challenges and opportunities – and create a vision for the development of their territory until 2040. The diversity of these characteristics of rural territories was clearly reflected in the discussions of the MAPs. However, several key, common themes and issues emerged as characteristics of a desirable future. Discussions confirmed the significance of: i) the predominant trend of demographic shift. Depopulation, especially in intermediate and remote areas, and population ageing, have been identified as the main demographic challenges currently faced by European rural areas; ii) climate change, through greater frequency of extreme meteorological phenomena such as higher temperatures (leading to drought and forest fires) and lower annual precipitation, which affect activities carried out in rural areas (e.g. agriculture, forestry and fishing); iii) the rise of digitisation of services and the use of new technologies. However, access to broadband remains uneven across territories. Rural areas are attractive in their own right: as a consequence of the high quality of life available, many European rural…

How do Sámi youth experience their education and job opportunities?

Sami language competence is a sought-after skill in the regional labour markets. Sami-related occupations can be found in traditional occupations such as reindeer husbandry and Sami handicrafts, but also in tourism and in creative industries. But are there enough Sami teachers? And how do Sami education institutions meet the labour market demands and opportunities? Nordregio has published a report on Sámi youth perceptions in English and Northern Sami as a part of the work of The Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020. The report is available both in English and Northern Sámi, see the links below. Nordregio hosted a webinar in early June based on the findings of this report together with Sami youth representatives Juhán Niila Stålka, board member of the youth association Sáminuorra, and Arla Magga, the Sami Parliament in Finland, author of a report on cross-border education and the coordinator of an ongoing project on remote Sami language education. In case you missed it, the recording is available here: https://nordregio.adobeconnect.com/p9yjila7h1ac/?proto=true

Webinar 9 June: Sami Youth – Access to education and labour markets

Sami language competence is a sought-after skill in the regional labour markets. Sami-related occupations can be found in traditional occupations such as reindeer husbandry and Sami handicrafts, but also in tourism and in creative industries. But are there enough Sami teachers? And how do Sami education institutions meet the labour market demands and opportunities? A new report from Nordregio investigates these questions and the results are discussed in a webinar 9 June at 3pm (CET) together with Sami youth representatives Juhán Niila Stålka, board member of the youth association Sáminuorra, and Arla Magga, the Sami Parliament in Finland, author of a report on cross-border education and the coordinator of an ongoing project on remote Sami language education. “We didn’t really learn anything about our own culture in school. I started learning about it at university. Now that I have the language, there is so much I can do, for example translations, interpretation, write education material. (…) I have a friend who teaches Sami language remotely while living abroad. Modern technology makes this possible.” (Youth, F, FI) Linnea Löfving from Nordregio together with Lise Smed Olsen from Oxford Research will present the results of the study which was commissioned by The Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020. The report will be available at the group’s website, see nordregioprojects.org/rural, as well as sent to all webinar participants middle of June. A link to the event will be sent to all participants a day before, but registration is needed here: https://www.lyyti.in/Samiwebinar

4 February report is out: State of the Nordic Region 2020

State of the Nordic Region 2020 is launched on February 4th, 2020. The report gives you a unique look behind the scenes of the world’s most integrated region, comprised of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, along with Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland. The main authors, Nordregio researchers Julien Grunfelder, Linda Randall and Gustaf Norlén, present the key conclusions from the report here.  Weekly thematic, in-depth and interactive webinars are organized throughout February – sign up here Also, check Nordregio Magazine #1 2020 coming out 5 February with national stories from the report!   The Nordic Council of Ministers has the vision to make the Nordic Region the world’s most sustainable and integrated region by 2030. A closer look at the regional and local level reveals how the Nordic Region is developing and moving towards this target. This unique publication is a valuable tool in detecting and analysing the short-term and long-term changes within and between the countries: How are we realizing the vision? And what more should be done? A comprehensive overview of the Nordics The State of the Nordic Region 2020 presents a series of facts and figures showing the current state of play within core socio-economic sectors. This includes: Demography – with chapters on “Births, children and young people”; Migration and mobility”; Ageing as a major demographic trend”. Labour market – with chapters on “The geographies of labour; “The Nordic labour market in 2040”. Economy – with chapters on “Increased income inequality”; “The role of smart specialization”; “the biobased circular economy”. In addition, you can read about: Wellbeing in the Nordics Energy pathways towards a carbon neutral Nordic Region The Regional Potential Index – a socioeconomic ranking of all regions in the Nordic countries Sign up for thematic webinar series based on the report:  DEMOGRAPHY, 12…

Nordic Economic Policy Review at Nordic Finance Ministers meeting in Washington

Last week of October, during the IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Finance met to discuss common issues. Nordregio’s Director Kjell Nilsson participated in the meeting since Nordregio had delivered background material to two of the items on the agenda: the efficiency of the Nordic countries’ climate policies and the effects of different measures for better integration of immigrants on the Nordic labour markets. They agreed that commitment and strong Nordic leadership is needed in the first case and that getting into work or education as fast as possible is a crucial prerequisite for successful integration.                    

Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions publishes discussion paper about skills policies

A new discussion paper, titled Skills Policies – Building Capacities and Resilient Nordic Regions, has been published under the guidance of the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions. The paper offers background for the upcoming in-depth study that aims at helping develop better policies and solutions for the labour markets. It has been made publicly available to encourage engagement with Nordregio’s research while it is still in progress. Skills Policies – Building Capacities and Resilient Nordic Regions, consisting of preliminary findings from a knowledge and literature review, dives into the issue of skills, Nordic policies related to the matter and brings examples of regional skills projects. Nordregio welcomes constructive feedback on the paper and hopes that this open process will ultimately contribute to a better result. To offer feedback, please contact Alex Cuadrado. The final report on the in-depth study will be available in mid 2020 at www.nordregio.org

New issue of Nordregio Magazine: Jobs for immigrants

The Nordic countries have received more refugees than most other regions in Europe in the last years.Finding jobs for these new citizens is a major challenge, if they end up staying. The latest issue of Nordregio Magazine presents the highlights from a new Nordic report on labour market integration produced by Nordregio for the Nordic Council of Ministers. It includes a series of policy advice and outlines a path towards better integration of immigrants into the Nordic labour markets. Read the magazine

2019 Iceland leads the Nordics towards sustainable tourism, and use of seas by activating youth

Iceland took over the Presidency of Nordic Council of Ministers for 2019. Youth arise to the center of the chairmanship. A recent report by Nordregio reveals, that young people feel they don’t get their voices heard. Also, the youth have adapted to a new multilocational lifestyle where they live, work and study in different locations. -All the Nordic countries are facing similar challenges when it comes to young people’s standard of living, says Aðalsteinn Thorsteinsson, the Icelandic member of the Nordregio board. Steady growth in tourism without harming the nature, or small communities The ruthless, and bare nature of the North offers beauty and silence to a steadily growing flow of tourists. Investments on infrastructure have made the growth possible. How can nature protection and growth go hand in hand? Director of Icelandic Regional Development Institute, Aðalsteinn Thorsteinsson: – Our most valuable and most sought-after asset is of course our fragile nature, culture and history. Especially in many of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, we have reached the carrying capacity of nature. It is important that we share our experiences, mistakes and success stories, so that the Nordic countries can learn from each other. Nordregio and The Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development have started a research project “Rural tourism in the Nordic region” that focuses particularly on the sustainability aspect. Sustainable tourism takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. The challenges of rural tourism include capacity constraints: is there money and workforce available, and how to manage seasonal variations? This study will be finalized by the end of 2019 with answers to these questions. Youth in the Arctic – How do they see their future? Young people are losing their…