With a new national knowledge centre, vocational education in Denmark is taking a step towards a stronger research environment that can raise quality and help solve the challenges this training pathway is facing.

Vocational education and training (VET) is central to solving the challenges surrounding the green transition and welfare. But despite numerous measures and reforms, there are still too few young people and adults seeking vocational education; in 2020 only 38.2% of all upper secondary learners were enrolled in vocational programmes, compared to an EU-27 average of 48.7% (Eurostat). Besides, too many learners drop out once they start a vocational programme. There is a need to increase the attractiveness of VET, which should be supported by strengthening the research on vocational training.

Strengthening VET for the future

The new knowledge centre is a collaboration between the Institute for Culture and Learning / Centre for Youth Research at Aalborg University and the Copenhagen University of Applied Sciences. The centre aims to develop a strong research environment and contribute with knowledge and practice development to strengthening VET for the future. The centre’s ambition is to carry out innovation and research that can be used in practice, especially regarding vocational training that takes place at companies. This was the message of the head of the National Centre for Vocational Education (NCE) at the Copenhagen University of Applied Sciences, where the new knowledge centre will be located:

‘We need strong vocational training that can support us in getting more and skilled workers in the future. It must contribute to creating academically exciting learning environments that make it attractive to start vocational education. That's why it's important to have knowledge and research about what provides quality and how we can create good learning environments at apprenticeships and schools, as well as in the interaction between the two’.

Focus on the role of companies

The Danish employers’ association, also has great expectations of the new centre. The manager for education and integration emphasises that companies play an absolutely central role in training the skilled workers of the future:

‘The vast majority of the training takes place at the companies, which ensure that students and apprentices receive company-related and comprehensive training in their subjects. There is clearly a potential in learning more about the role of companies and how companies can become even better at contributing to the training of the skilled workers of the future, which will be needed to such an extent in the labour market’.

The same point was made by the Vice-Chairman of the main trade union organisation: ‘Training in an apprenticeship is absolutely central to our vocational training. This is the reason why we, as the social partners, have set aside DKK 30 million [EUR 4 million] to strengthen our knowledge of the learning that takes place in the apprenticeship, so that we can constantly improve quality and reduce dropout rates. This is necessary to ensure enough skilled workers for welfare and the green transition’.

Financing of the knowledge centre

The knowledge centre is being supported with EUR 4 million (DKK 30 million) from the Employers' Education Contribution (AUB) from 2022-25. The funds are issued by the board of AUB (Employers' Education Grant), which has a broad representation of labour market partners. They were set aside for research and knowledge development in the VET area in a political agreement in November 2020.

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Copenhagen University College: New initiative strengthens research on vocational education and training


Please cite this news item as: ReferNet Denmark; Cedefop (2022). Denmark: knowledge centre strengthens research in VET. National news on VET