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…