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Remote Work in Rural Areas: Possibilities and uncertainties

This study investigates the role of remote work in enhancing the resilience of rural and remote municipalities in the Nordic countries, highlighting the shift towards hybrid work models. The report presents six case studies, each detailing the context, challenges and opportunities associated with remote work. The study found that many public authorities lack formal remote work policies, relying on pre-existing or pandemic-developed frameworks aimed at work-life balance. The research points to remote work’s potential for attracting and retaining residents and skilled workers, crucial for rural development, despite challenges like the need for improved digital infrastructure and the absence of formal policies. Initiatives like co-working spaces and the focus on enhancing regional attractiveness through quality of life and infrastructure investments are seen as key to leveraging remote work for sustainable regional development. However, the study also notes obstacles such as legislative issues and the need for comprehensive strategies to fully realise the benefits of remote work for rural revitalisation. Remote work offers a pathway to sustainable development in Nordic regions by introducing new skills, enhancing business innovation, and improving public services, which helps combat out-migration and boosts quality of life. For maximum impact, investments in digital infrastructure, supportive work environments, and regional attractiveness are crucial, paving the way for a more vibrant and sustainable future.

Employers’ perspectives on hiring immigrants – Experiences from the Nordic countries

This report dives into the perspectives of Nordic employers on hiring low-skilled immigrants. Its objective is to uncover both opportunities and challenges faced by employers and to explore potential solutions for a more inclusive recruitment. The Nordic Region faces significant challenges in labour market participation, with a notable gap between native-born individuals and migrants, particularly affecting women, those with lower education levels, and non-EU citizens. Paradoxically, the region is at the same time grappling with severe labour shortages across various sectors. This report was produced in close collaboration with the Nordic Welfare Centre as part of the Nordic Programme for Integration of Immigrants. It aims to inspire Nordic employers, staffing companies, and public-sector and civil society organizations to collaborate on creating inclusive solutions for the labour market. Existing research predominantly focuses on individual-level obstacles faced by migrants, such as limited language skills, low education, and a lack of work experience in the host country. This study seeks to shift the spotlight onto the role and responsibility of employers in fostering the successful integration of immigrants into the labour markets. Employers participating in this study express a belief that the long-term benefits of hiring immigrants outweigh the initial challenges. However, obstacles exist, ranging from structural and organizational barriers to individual challenges like language proficiency. Success is attributed to diversity management, committed leadership and collaboration with public-sector entities and third-sector actors. The literature review and interviews reveal that employers are driven by the need to address labour shortages, especially in sectors like healthcare and hospitality. The benefits of hiring immigrants include a diverse workforce, improved productivity, and positive community impact. The findings in this report underscore the commitment of many employers to instigate positive change. Their motivations extend beyond mere workforce gap filling, reflecting a desire to contribute positively to the local…

Demografi och kompetensförsörjning i gränsområdet Innlandet-Dalarna-Värmland

Denna rapport är beställd av Gränsregionen Innlandet-Dalarna med syftet att ta fram statistik över gränsregionen Innlandet-Dalarna (inklusive Värmland) med fokus på kompetensförsörjning i gränskommunerna mellan Sverige och Norge. Rapporten innehåller statistik över arbetsmarknaden i gränsområdet med fokus på nutid och utveckling under den senaste tioårsperioden. I den här avslutande delen vänds i stället blicken mot framtiden för att diskutera de trender som väntas påverka framtidens arbetsmarknad och de utmaningar och möjligheter det kan innebära för gränskommunerna i Innlandet-Dalarna-Värmland. Det som styr tillgång och efterfrågan på arbetsmarknaden på lång sikt är främst de större megatrenderna. Men även konjunkturfaktorer och specifika händelser kan ha stor påverkan på kort sikt. Arbetsmarknaden är tätt knuten till den ekonomiska konjunkturen och enskilda händelser som pandemin och Rysslands invasion av Ukraina är exempel på händelser som kan ha stor påverkan på kort sikt. Alla dessa trender och händelser manifesteras olika på olika platser då alla lokala arbetsmarknader har olika förutsättningar som skapar såväl möjligheter som utmaningar. I det här avsnittet tas först konjunkturens roll upp och sedan vänds fokus mot megatrenderna och vilka utmaningar och möjligheter som de kan komma att medföra för gränskommunerna.

Embracing the just green transition on the Nordic labour market

The green transition aims to reduce CO2 emissions and align with UN Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement. It affects various sectors, labor markets, and society – and it is important to leave no one behind to ensure a just green transition. This reports shares best practice examples from around the Nordic countries to show how a just green transition can be tackled. Exchange of best practices and strong social dialogue can help achieve a sustainable Nordic region by 2030. This report provides background and insights for the “Green Transition on the Nordic Labor Market” dialogue, covering green transition impacts, just transition strategies, and Nordic best practices. The exchange of best practices among the Nordic countries and strengthening of social dialogue could be an enabler to achieving a just Nordic green transition based on economic growth, social justice and a steady path towards carbon neutrality. It could also be an important step towards achieving the Nordic vision of being the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. This report sets out to provide some background and inspiration for the discussions during the “Green Transition on the Nordic Labour market: A Nordic Tripartite Dialogue”. It provides basic knowledge about the green transition and how it impacts the Nordic countries. It also discusses how a just green transition can be tackled and shares best practice examples from around the Nordic countries. In the first section, some basic knowledge about the green transition and how it impacts the Nordic countries will be provided. The second section will discuss how a just green transition can be tackled and best practice examples from around the Nordic countries will be shared. The report will end with some short final remarks.

Can local value creation induce a sense of justice during green transitions? A study of six rural areas in Denmark, Finland, and Norway

Nordic rural areas risk alienation due to top-down green transition measures that often overlook their unique needs and challenges. This report suggests early local engagement, transparent communication, and regional ownership of energy projects can foster trust, ensure equitable benefits, and better integrate projects with local aspirations. The accelerating impacts of climate change, the need to adapt to changing economic and political realities, and the recent energy crisis have made the green transition something that most Nordic citizens acknowledge. However, especially rural areas and their communities are at risk of being reduced to passive instruments of national green transition measures featuring heavy land-use. These conditions make it very difficult to create a sense of justness in green transitions, leading to growing sense of alienation and resentment and putting the national climate goals in danger. From this starting point, the case studies of the research project “Just Green Transition on Rural Areas: Local Benefits from Value Creation” set out to examine what kind of benefits would generate value from green transition measures in the direct impact zone of new energy projects. The case studies took place in three Nordic countries and six locations: in Northern Ostrobothnia and Northern Central Finland of Finland, involving wind power and land use planning; in Nord-Fron and Nord-Odal in Norway, involving both wind power and strategic sustainability work; and in Skive and Bornholm of Denmark, involving a hybrid mix of renewable energy sources in the context of industrial park development.  The results highlight the importance of local involvement and trust in green energy transitions in Nordic rural areas. Neglecting local needs can cause resistance to renewable projects. Early engagement, transparent communication, and ensuring local benefits are vital. While monetary benefits attract attention, relying solely on them can create community divisions. A blend of community engagement, environmental benefits,…

The Role of 5G in the Transition to a Digital and Green Economy in the Nordic and Baltic Countries: Analytic Report 

The report provides an overview of the status of 5G roll-out and its industrial uptake in the Nordic-Baltic region. The aim is not only to present the roll-out status across the region but also to put these insights into a broader political and technological context. The report describes some of the most relevant testbeds and policy initiatives, provides examples of successful and promising use cases, and highlights existing strengths and ongoing challenges in the Nordic-Baltic region. Juxtaposing these against established goals emphasises areas for possible future cooperation and knowledge exchange between the Nordic and Baltic actors to encourage sustainable innovation and competitiveness across the region.  The report reveals notable variations in the progress of 5G coverage among the Nordic-Baltic countries. Denmark and Finland have made significant strides and surpassed the European Union average regarding 5G coverage, while other countries still face challenges in catching up.   Despite the presence of numerous 5G activities, such as testbeds and innovation hubs, a considerable number of initiatives remain in the testing and prototyping stage. The report indicates that the full potential of 5G for innovation and competitiveness in the Nordic-Baltic region has yet to be fully realised.   With the accelerated digitalisation brought by 5G, the importance of cyber security considerations increases. As 5G networks increase electricity demand, it is essential to consider the environmental footprint and societal effects of their rollout. While 5G has immense potential, it necessitates significant adjustments in various areas, including network infrastructure, systems, applications, data ethics, privacy, and workforce implications. Challenges related to social inclusion further underscore the importance of cooperation and synergy across the region.  The report highlights the need for increased knowledge exchange, the formulation of common roadmaps, and the establishment of guidelines to promote harmonised 5G deployment. Collaborative efforts among stakeholders are crucial for maximising the benefits…

Facilitating cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region

This publication analyses the formal and informal barriers to developing cross-border transport infrastructure and how these barriers could be reduced. Transport infrastructure, historically, has been a cornerstone for industrialisation, economic growth, regional development and labour market mobility in the Nordic Region. Despite the ambitious Nordic vision of becoming the most integrated and sustainable region in the world and the increasing need for cross-border transport infrastructure, several studies point to difficulties and challenges regarding the Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure planning.  The study features interviews with planners on their practical experiences and suggestions for developing well-functioning transport infrastructure. The study includes cases of the fixed HH link between Helsingborg and Helsingør; the Stockholm-Oslo rail link; and the link from Mo i Rana, via Hemavan and Umeå, across the Kvarken Strait to Vaasa. 20 June: How can cross-border planning of the transport infrastructure be strengthened in the Nordic region? The Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure planning topic will be discussed in the webinar organised by Trafikverket on 20 June. Anna Lundgren, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, and the project manager, will present the study, cross-border challenges and opportunities. The study and planning practices will be discussed by Stefan Engdahl, Planning Director, Maria Öberg, Strategic planner at Trafikverket, and Maria Stockhaus, Member of the Swedish Parliament, member of the Transport Committee and the Nordic Council’s Swedish delegation. The event will be held in Swedish. Registration is open by 20 June. About the project This report is the second and final report in the project titled NORDINFRA – “Nordic transport infrastructure planning – institutional barriers and opportunities for coordination” (Nordisk transport infrastrukturplanering. Institutionella hinder och möjligheter till samordning) (2021-2023). NORDINFRA is a research project led by Nordregio and conducted by researchers from Nordregio and Umeå University, financed by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket). The aim of…

The Nordic Region and the 2030 Agenda: Governance and engagement (2021-2022)

The Nordic countries have continuously ranked at the top of international assessments with regards to SDG implementation. This does not mean, however, that sustainable development in the Nordic Region has been fully achieved. Each country continues to face numerous challenges, including unsustainable consumption and production patterns, the effects of a changing climate, as well as rebalancing our societies after multiple crises marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing recovery, energy supply shortages in Europe and the war in Ukraine. This report describes central policy decisions, actors and national structures in ongoing SDG work, and highlights inspiring examples of national networks and societal participation. Where information about more recent action has not been available, other supplementary aspects have been added, hence overlaps in the national chapters occur. The publication follows the report The Nordic Region and the 2030 Agenda from 2021, which looked at the ways in which national structures, action plans, monitoring and reporting along with international efforts for the SDGs took place across the region. Since the nature of this work changes in the respective countries from year to year, the purpose of this edition is to update and compile an overview of the 2030 Agenda efforts in the Nordic Region with relevant and accessible information. New to this edition are the sections on regional and local activities, work which lies at the core of accomplishing the global goals and targets, while also strengthening the Nordic countries’ leadership and grassroots involvement, leaving no one behind.

Service provision and access to services in Nordic rural areas

Service provision is one of the key factors that make rural areas attractive and viable. Recent and ongoing developments, such as migration flows, digitalisation and the effects of climate change influence service accessibility and perceptions of which services are essential for everyday rural lives. It is therefore relevant to investigate service provision and access to services from different perspectives. This report presents results based on in-depth field work in eight case studies of rural areas identified as having high access to services or as good examples in their national and regional context: Lolland, Suðuroy, Kinnula, Avannaata, Múlaþing, Herøy, Vimmerby and Geta. The aim of the field work has been to investigate service provision and validate the results of a research and policy review focusing on Nordic rural areas. The investigations presented in this report focus on the following questions: Which services are considered essential, and how does that vary in rural areas across the Nordics? How are services provided, what roles and responsibilities are involved in their provision? Which challenges are encountered, and what solutions are being developed to solve challenges associated with access to essential services in Nordic rural areas? In answering these questions based on the eight case studies, the report aims to create knowledge and inspire actors in and around the Nordic rural areas. The answers can be read as a source of inspiration in their own right. The case study descriptions also enable a cross-Nordic comparison, aimed at identifying common patterns and unique Nordic innovations regarding rural service provisions, from which others can learn. It is therefore possible to gain an overview of the report solely from the cross-Nordic comparison.

Can we break the isolation? Experiences of digital tools in elderly care in three Swedish municipalities

Loneliness and social isolation pose significant challenges for older people living alone and in nursing homes by affecting their physical and mental health. Due to requirements for self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have been further exacerbated. The use of digital technology in elderly care has the potential to combat social isolation, for example, by increasing access to home care and providing opportunities to participate in social activities. Nevertheless, previous knowledge about the efficiency of digital interventions to counteract the loneliness of older people is limited. The new report investigates how caregivers have dealt with the challenges of loneliness and social isolation of the elderly population during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on the use of digital technologies. The aim was also to understand better how digital tools can be used in a socially inclusive way in elderly care. The research method consisted of semi-structured interviews with municipal officials, senior care managers and senior care staff in three case study municipalities (Huddinge, Eskilstuna and Storuman). In addition, older adults who live in nursing homes and at home with support efforts such as home care were interviewed, and a mapping analysis of the case study municipalities was carried out. The transcribed interview material was analysed using a qualitative manifest content analysis method. According to the interview results in the three case study municipalities, the pandemic has not been a considerable driving force for a digital transformation in elderly care. In all municipalities, they had started working on certain digitisation efforts even before the pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020. With the pandemic, they had to make quick and courageous decisions, and the municipalities also received state grants that enabled digital investments, such as the purchase of digital equipment. In addition, the elderly care staff supported the elderly using digital…