A recently published 36-page report outlining proposals to improve working life in the five Nordic countries—Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, and Norway—has a proposal that Quartz says contains a "startling" word: "mandatory." Poul Nielson, a Danish politician given the task last year of preparing a labor market report for the Nordic Council of Ministers, puts forth "Proposal 7," which states that the "Nordic governments should commit to the principle of mandatory adult and continuing training for everybody in the labor markets" in that area of the world. "The combination of rapid technological development with the gradual increase in retirement age increases the need for new forms of education," he tells the EuObserver, noting people in their 60s may still have five to 10 more years in which they'll be collecting a paycheck.
And while Nielson says it would be "visionary" for Nordic countries to adopt this proposal, which doesn't define how long or how often adults would have to submit to schooling, he's aware there will be critics and "expects many misgivings, conflicts of interest, and not least major difficulties when it comes to the allocation of costs and rights," as the Nordic Labour Journal notes. But he points out the creation of a common Nordic workforce in 1954 was a similarly "out of the box" move and that having all adults of working age well-trained will help the region remain competitive globally. As for what the 73-year-old Nielson himself would study if he had to hit the books again: "photography or more gardening." The Nordic Council is expected to directly address his proposal in November.