The Nordic Model: Can it help to Solve Australia’s Labour Market Policy Challenges?

Australia’s labour market currently faces many challenges: low-wage growth, widening income disparity, extensive wage theft and non-compliance with legal minimum standards, low productivity growth, weak skill formation and persistent gender inequality. Many other advanced industrial nations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, confront similar challenges.

By contrast, the four Nordic nations – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – have avoided many of these problems. They have managed to combine economic prosperity with social equality. The so-called ‘Nordic Model’ has fostered internationally competitive industries and innovative enterprises whilst maintaining strong unions and high collective bargaining coverage. These nations have managed to achieve high levels of workplace gender equality by international standards.

What lessons can be learned from the Nordic Model? Could it help to address the major challenges confronting Australia’s labour market?

This workshop will examine these questions through presentations by leading academic experts and senior representations of unions, business and government. It is co-hosted by The University of Sydney Business School’s Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies and The Australia Institute’s Nordic Policy Centre and Centre for Future Work.


10.00-11.00 – The Nordic and Australian Labour Market Models Compared

Chair: Chris Wright (University of Sydney)


  • Andrew Scott (Deakin University / Nordic Policy Centre) – Nordic Industrial Relations and Social Policies: An Overview
  • Alison Pennington (Centre for Future Work) – Enterprise Bargaining in Crisis: Building a Viable Collective Bargaining in Australia
  • Søren Kaj Andersen (FAOS, University of Copenhagen) – Wages and Collective Bargaining in the Nordic States
  • Jens Arnholtz (FAOS, University of Copenhagen) – Different Nordic Responses to European Labour Mobility
  • Marian Baird (University of Sydney) – Comparing Australia's Work and Care Regimes to the Nordic Countries

11.00-11.40 – Panel discussion: Is the Nordic Model a Model for Australia?

Chair: Russell Lansbury (University of Sydney)


  • Jo Schofield (National Secretary, United Voice)
  • Mark Goodsell (NSW Head and National Director of Manufacturing, Ai Group)
  • Tim Ayres (Senator for NSW)
  • Bradon Ellem (University of Sydney)

11.40-12.00 Questions and discussion

12.00-1.00 Light lunch


Date: Monday 9 December 2019

Time: 10.00-12.00, with registration from 9.45, followed by a light lunch 12.00-1.00

Venue: The Refectory, Level 5, Abercrombie Building (H70), The University of Sydney Business School, Corner Abercrombie St & Codrington St, Darlington 2008 – see map

RSVP by Monday 2 December to [email protected]. Please advise of any dietary requirements.

December 09, 2019 at 10:00am - 12pm
The Refectory, Level 5, Abercrombie Building (H70), The University of Sydney Business School
Corner Abercrombie St & Codrington St
Darlington, NSW 2008
Google map and directions
Chris Wright ·

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