If we look back to the beginning of the year, few of us feared that within a few months a virus would have such unimaginable consequences for the entire world. Most of us believed that our society was well-developed and highly regarded and could withstand most crises. However, we have since become wiser and more aware of what we can achieve when we stand together. Because if we thought that Denmark was full of individualists, egotists and narcissists, then we have also become wiser. Whether we call it “community spirit” or something else, I believe we have proved our ability to help each other for the common good in the throes of the crisis.
Today, the coronavirus crisis is still ongoing, and we must continue to show community spirit. Nevertheless, I cannot help but consider, whether community spirit could be deployed to tackle other crises? Without drawing direct comparisons, we also have a very pressing crisis here in Aalborg, which we need to address. The faster and more targeted, the better. Namely, that we lack to a certain degree jobs. We did before the crisis, when unemployment was well above the national average and we also do now that the coronavirus has led to numerous redundancies and continues to do so.
I can say without hesitation that unemployment is the biggest social issue in Aalborg. If we do not get to grips with employment, it can lead to a migration of people from Aalborg to Aarhus, the Triangle region, Copenhagen etc., which may result in higher taxes and reduced welfare. This will start a downward spiral that can have far-reaching consequences.
The employment challenge in Aalborg and North Jutland is complex and intensive efforts have been made over the years to improve the situation and create jobs. Without these efforts the situation would be far worse. However, we need to be careful about assigning blame. For example, some believe the university offers too many courses and produces graduates that the local community does not need. Others believe too little has been done by the municipality, while others again claim that the business community is dragging its feet and afraid to take risks by hiring employees with a different profile than they are used to.
Nothing could be worse than trying to lay blame on others. Everyone should look closer to home and by that, I mean EVERYONE, including the state, region, municipality, businesses, organisations and employees. In fact, I believe it is necessary to activate the same power and community spirit as during the coronavirus crisis. If we all assumed responsibility for helping to create new jobs and helped an unemployed person we know seek the right position for them then, I believe, together we can accomplish miracles.
Indeed, I do not doubt for an instant that the potential exists. We have Aalborg university, UCN (University College of Northern Denmark) and other academic and professional schools. We have a fantastic cultural city that includes Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg Theatre, Utzon Centre, the House of Music and Aalborg Congress and Cultural Centre. We have a vibrant city, full of life. We have a huge number of ambitious and creative young people. We have an abundance of housing for students, first-time buyers etc. We have an international port and airport. We have an outstanding nature and fjord. And I could go on.
However, obviously it not enough to say that the potential is there. We need to tap into underused powers, which we now know we have. We must view unemployment as a health threat that can kill us, and see job creation as a collective responsibility. Both Port of Alborg and I will do this by making employment our highest priority. And I hope many others will do the same.