The Greenlandic Home Rule Government has, since its establishment in 1979, gradually taken over the main policy areas related to the labour market and the functions of the welfare state. In the following, I will describe briefly the conditions prevailing in the labour market and the institutional framework of the welfare state in Greenland.
The labour marketAt present, most young Greenlanders hold vocational qualifications. Great emphasis has been placed on enhancing the educational qualifications of the Greenlandic labour force. Educational grants are given to those who proceed from compulsory school to vocational schools, secondary schools and universities. Employees who want to participate in courses designed to enhance their skills may also receive grants from the Home Rule Government. The grants are to replace the income lost during the course period and if the employee does not lose his/her income when attending a course, the grant is paid to the employer.
The labour market in Greenland is characterised by a relatively young labour force and great stability as far as industrial disputes are concerned. Women participate actively in the labour market and their labour force participation is close to that of men. Most people in the Greenlandic labour market are involved in unskilled work, fishing/hunting and low-level service work.
Registered unemployment in Greenland has been about 10%, which is comparable to unemployment levels in many European countries. The main economic activity in Greenlandic society has been fishing and fish processing. The fisheries industries are subject to price and volume fluctuations. Seasonal variations in employment are therefore considerable. The aim of the Home Rule Government is to reduce unemployment to 3% by the year 2005.
Various active labour market measures have been undertaken by the Home Rule Government and the municipalities in order to improve the employment situation. Most municipalities offer employment services in order to make the matching of those looking for employment and those offering employment more effective. Employment creation programmes have also been implemented by many municipalities with financial support from the Home Rule Government. These programmes involve the creation of both temporary and permanent jobs that are not in competition with other jobs in the communities. Moreover, municipalities have in some instances substituted a wage for those otherwise unemployed in both private and public enterprises.
The welfare state
Like other Nordic welfare states, the Greenlandic welfare state is based to a large extent on the principle of universalism and extensive provision of social services. The principle of universalism means that most rights and services are open to everybody belonging to a widely defined group of people.
Mrs. Benedikte Thorsteinsson.
Minister of Social and Labour Market Affairs.
The pension system in Greenland is based on the principle of unversalism as all people 60 years and older, holding citizenship in one of the 5 Nordic countries, have a right to a pension. Child benefit is another element of the welfare state that involves universal rights as it is paid to all families with children under the age of 18. Although rights include everybody in the group, the amount of benefit people receive may vary as it is in most cases income-related. Rights to unemployment benefit, sickness benefit and paid parental leave have, on the other hand, been confined to those who are economically active. Finally, social assistance in Greenland is restricted to a narrowly defined group of people, as only those who are in need of financial support are eligible.
The aim of the welfare services in Greenland is to provide care and assistance in the communities. Services provided by the welfare state include, among others, child care, care for the elderly and care for the disabled.
In 1993, about 47% of children in the age group 0-6 years had a place in nurseries operated by the municipalities and registered child minders. Moreover, the municipalities are obliged to secure sufficient number of places in homes for the elderly in the communities. In 1993, up to 13% of Greenlanders 59 years and older were living in public homes for the elderly. Finally, emphasis has been placed on building up facilities and services for the mentally and physically disabled in Greenland.