16 August 2011

The Competitiveness of the Nordic Countries – from flexicurity to mobication

Report by Søren Kaj Andersen, FAOS, Nikolaj Lubanski, Professionshøjskolen Metropol & Ove K. Pedersen, CBS

The report argues that high labour mobility and a flexible education system directly supported by government policies may be crucial for the competitiveness and future prosperity of the Nordic countries. In recent years, flexicurity has emerged as a central concept in the debate on how regulation of work and welfare could ensure consistency between supply and demand of labour.

However, the current crisis has shown that the positive effects of the so-called Danish flexicurity model can be questioned. Furthermore, other dynamics ensuring high levels of employment seem to be present. For instance the development in policy formulation - especially at the European level - suggests that tomorrow's competitive advantage depends on the ability to ensure a high labour mobility through comprehensive and flexible educational systems. It is this relationship between mobility and education that we term mobication. The term implies that skills are systematically used to promote mobility within and between labour markets. Mobication assume that tomorrow's job openings will be even more changeable and unpredictable than today. This emphasises the challenge of combining a flexible labour market with a high level of security for employees. Flexibility must ensure that employees are moving to where the job openings are. In the flexicurity debate the security aspect has been focused on the possibility to obtain various forms of benefits if one is made redundant. Mobication suggests that security primarily comes from continuous education and training, meaning that the individual employee will have access to further training and/or re-skilling in all stages of working life. The overall aim is to obtain fewer and shorter periods of unemployment for each employee, in spite of restructuring, introduction of new technologies, plant closures, etc. In this sense mobication is an attempt to further develop the Danish flexicurity model.

The report has been compiled for the Nordic Council of Ministers with the aim to contribute to the development of employment and education policies in the Nordic countries.

In Danish the report is entitled De nordiske landes konkurrencedygtighed - fra flexicurity til mobication.

Download the report (in Danish only)