Towards inclusion guarantee?

SAMAK (the Nordic Social Democratic Labour movement) held their annual meeting and Baltic Sea Conference this week in Helsinki and I was invited to speak about youth unemployment, which I obviously gladly did. It is good that also organisations like SAMAK have taken the issue on their agenda, despite the fact that the problem is not as acute in the Nordic countries as elsewhere in Europe.

Or it is not as acute, if one simply looks at the current youth unemployment statistics. What I wanted to remind the Nordic comrades of was, that actually there has been a long running problem of youth unemployment in these countries since mid-1990’s. A problem that has often been ignored, or brushed under the carpet as something that will solve itself out in the end. In the Nordic countries the youth unemployment has been consistently double that of the “adult” unemployment, revealing structural problems with the labour market access for young people. Which are obviously only emphasised by the current economic crisis.

The second topic I tried to tackle was that of the insufficiency of the current proposals for the tackling of the youth unemployment. Youth Guarantee is a great tool, as are the many different policies proposed across Europe. But most of them have the same problem: they only address the needs of those under 25 years of age. But as this crisis has been going on for 5 years by now, hitting hardest the young people for the entire time, we now have a generation of not only 15 to 25 year olds, but also up to 30-35 year olds, who have suffered and lost out. Many of them have permanently weaker labour market position due to the inability to enter the labour markets either at all, or at a level and pay of their education.

Maybe it would be the time for us not only to look at this crisis and the solutions for the acute situation, but also to the future? To re-launch the discussion on what kind of societies we want to build in the long run, and most of all, how can we guarantee the inclusion and ability to participate and contribute of all members of our societies? Maybe we could talk about inclusion guarantee as some thinkers have proposed, something that not only guarantees the right to be able to participate in the society through employment and education, but also expects the responsibility of participation.

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