Finland's continued competitiveness in a world that is becoming more and more competitive may come as a surprise to some. Those involved behind the scenes in creating and fostering the underlying national consensus that has emerged between all sectors of society and the economy, however, are not surprised. They see it as the foundation underpinning modern Finnish success.
Finland continues to be ranked as one of the world's most competitive countries in numerous international surveys. This success has not been achieved lightly, however, and has called for a lot of hard work and extensive, broad-based cooperation among many stakeholders.
|Erkki Vuorenmaa, the President of the Finnish Metalworkers' Union, is a strong advocate of the 'Finnish model'.
Surviving the major national and international downturn of the early 1990s saw the creation of a new type of national consensus, bringing together employers, employees, and government to take decisions jointly, and monitor their implementation jointly as well.
Working together in this way, a number of collective bargaining agreements have been launched that have helped provide an important underlying stability for the economy and promote employment.
In particular, these agreements have made it easier to plan and anticipate future cost structures. This has allowed companies to make longer-term plans for developing their businesses, and given them a better and more secure basis for their marketing efforts on the global marketplace.
Benefits for everyone
This 'Finnish model' has drawn its strength from a common sense of purpose, and a common commitment to developing the productivity and competitiveness of the country's economy.
In the metal industry, for example, in which my organisation is a partner, we are working together on the Trio Programme. This is aimed at developing a system of clusters, linking together contractors, system suppliers, and sub-contractors – through real-time networks – to make product development, productivity, and production systems more competitive.
We are also working together to ensure that people's skills and expertise are kept up-to-date and extended where necessary – and thereby guarantee that we have the human resources we need, not only today but further down the road as well.
Trust and mutual respect represent an important cornerstone of the Finnish model; and have enabled us to create flexible framework labour agreements that take account of local conditions and needs in different parts of the country and the economy, benefiting both employers and employees.
A good investment
The Finnish model is also good for those wanting to invest in Finland, as it gives them a solid platform for long-term industrial and business development.
With all the key players in society and the economy working together, we are well-placed to ensure that Finland can continue its high level of investments in both product and technological development – and will be able to continue to guarantee a supply of cost-effective electricity, a critical factor for energy-industry industries, and offer the type of infrastructure and logistics systems needed in today's world.
All of which should mean that Finland remains an ideal country for inward investment and productive business.