LAB meeting, Denmark

The meetings with LO, DA and DI representatives have been used to get inputs for and to verify information for the Danish paper as input to work package 4 on policy innovation. In particular, we have conducted interviews with the main Danish social partners who play an important role in the Danish institutional setting around education, vocational training and the world of work. The interviews have been used to identify and verify barriers and triggers of policy innovation, policy learning and knowledge transfer. It was seen as important to get the inputs from both workers’ and employers’ points of view.

Confederation of Danish Employers (DA)

In the meeting with the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA), the team met with Niels Trampe, who is in charge of DA’s lobby work in the European Union. He told the team about DA’s effort – together with other employer associations and union representatives – to bring vocational education to the top of the agenda of the EU.

At the meeting was also Simon Neergaard-Holm, who was in charge of DA’s negotiations over the 2014-reform of vocational education. Our discussion revolved around the 2014-reform. One question discussed was how significant a change it constitutes in Danish VET. DA considers the reform a considerable change, especially because it introduces grade requirements for acceptance into vocational education, but also because it signifies a change in the political debate on vocational education – from something that is not really placed centrally in the growth agenda, to an area of great political and economic importance.

The discussion also touched the question of where DA gets inspiration from, specifically what role policy transfer from other countries has played in crafting policy proposals. Given the specific structure of the Danish system, DA generally finds it difficult to transfer policies from other systems, but have visited other countries to draw inspiration. In the actual policymaking process, however, DA takes a clear departure in the Danish context.

Confederation of Danish Industry (DI)

Danish Industry stressed its strong support to the basic structure and approach of Danish VET, but they also emphasized the need to increase the respect of vocational education. They viewed the introduction of grade requirements as an important step in that direction. In their view, the reform was extremely important, because it helped raise the political system’s awareness about the centrality of vocational education in a period where the Danish economy is slowly returning to growth again. Instead of using vocational education as social policy – for example to find a place for students with weak study skills – the system should be geared to educate and educate the brightest minds. This requires a change of discourse surrounding vocational education as a great opportunity to get a job, but also to develop ones skills and perhaps participate in higher education upon having ended a vocational study program. The 2014-reform makes this easier, which is important for heightening the status of vocational education in Denmark. The change also requires recognition that not all education is good education – the Danish system needs clearer direction in what education is offered to young people. The DI representatives also stressed that something needs to be done to tackle the problem with a lack of apprenticeships, which it as an organization is planning to participate directly in.

Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO)

In the meeting with Lizette Risgaard it was discussed what LO considers the major challenges in combatting youth unemployment. After years of not having been prioritized by the political system, Lizette Risgaard stressed that for vocational education to take up the central position in education that is necessary to support the return to growth, it is paramount that decision makers recognize the respectability and importance of vocational education. Although the recent reform of vocational education has been important for putting vocational education on the political agenda, and enjoys strong support from the social partners, one of the major issues that still needs fixing, and which was not addressed in the 2014-reform, was the issue of a lack of apprenticeships, which LO considers a major impediment for building a strong vocational education system in Denmark.

As in the meeting with Lizette Riisgaard, the discussion again revolved around the 2014-reform and the role of LO in affecting the content of the reform. Ejner K. Holst explained both what LO considered its important marks on the reform, as well as how LO used their inclusion in the governance of schools and regional boards to gather information about important challenges in the vocational education system. The team discussed with Ejner K. Holst the impact of policy transfer from other system, and it was the judgement of Ejner K. Holst that policy makers have a quite strong focus on the Danish system and its specific makeup, but that inspiration may be drawn from other countries and also help decision makers become more aware of new and different ways to construct policies in Danish vocational education.


Location: Landsorganisationen i Danmark (LO)

Islands Brygge 32D, 2300 København S.

Date: 11.2.2015


Copenhagen Business School Martin Bæk Carstensen and Christian Lyhne Ibsen

Landsorganisationen i Danmark – LO (Danish Confederation of Trade Unions) Ejner K. Holst

Date: 09.2.2015


Copenhagen Business School Martin Bæk Carstensen and Christian Lyhne Ibsen

Landsorganisationen i Danmark – LO (Danish Confederation of Trade Unions) Ejner K. Holst and Lizette Riisgaard


Location: Dansk Industri (DI), H. C. Andersens Boulevard 18, 1787 København V

Date: 4.2.2015


Copenhagen Business School Martin Bæk Carstensen and Christian Lyhne Ibsen

Dansk Industri – Confederation of Danish Industry Lone Folmer Berthelsen and Claus Rosenkrands Olseen


Location: Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening (DA), Vester Voldgade 113, 1790 København V

Date: 22.1.2015


Copenhagen Business School Martin Bæk Carstensen and Christian Lyhne Ibsen

Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening (DA) (Conference of Danish Employers) Simon Neergaard-Holm