While some nations lament the disappearance of 20th century jobs, others are creating the jobs of the future.
Sanna Marin, Finland’s youngest-ever prime minister, hopes to start a technology-led economic revolution in Europe. The 34-year-old Marin, who replaced Antti Rinne as head of the country’s conservative-left coalition in December, wants Finland to be the test ground for a four-day week via productivity-boosting artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technologies.
Marin laid out Finland’s technology dream at a two-day European Council meeting in December. “A cohesive Europe is vital for member states to grow their economies and exploit the opportunities ahead,” she said. She is no stranger to Brussels, due to her service as Finland’s minister for Transport and Communications.
During Finland’s turn in the rotating presidency of the EU, a six-month term that ended on December 31, Marin launched an ambitious project to digitize Europe’s core transport and communications systems. It is certain to remain a significant part of her political agenda. “As a minister, I had a vision of how to use technology to drive economic growth and enhance national prosperity,” said Marin. “Technology has a huge role to play in transforming the labor market, business productivity and society.”
Her main legacy as T&C minister was to jump-start the concept of a four-day workweek. She reached out to business leaders, offering state support to accelerate AI and digital usage across Finland’s business and manufacturing sectors. She highlighted research on the benefits of a shortened workweek. Conducted by Finnish companies such as Nokia, many studies showed higher workplace productivity and improved worker well-being.
“This government wants to build a society that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable,” Marin said. “I want to make Finland a country where any child can become anything, and everyone can live and grow old safely and happily. Creating stability is our priority.”
Meanwhile, Marin faces ordinary domestic political issues. Her government must deal with shrinking economic growth compounded by a new wave of trade union unrest and increasingly vocal opposition to the government’s 2020 budget, especially from the resurgent nationalist Finns Party.