Changing institutions of knowing - Climate mitigation, craft competences and vocational training in Denmark
Paper in proceedings, 2014
In order to reach the EU 2020 goals for the climate, Danish vocational training units are currently in a process of institutional change triggered by the need of providing energy, and new process competences for the skilled and semiskilled workforce active in construction. The aim of the present paper is to analyze enablers and barriers for this institutional change. The vocational education system in Denmark is strongly institutionalised with unions, employer's associations and the schools in central roles. Drawing on institutional theory contributions on labour market -, educational - and professional institutions, the paper presents a study of institutional work inside and across schools and craft disciplines working in SMEs involved in new building and renovation with an energy aspect. Collaboration between four education committees for carpenters, masons, electricians and plumbers and interviews with seven companies come to focus on competences of interdisciplinary collaboration and sustainable innovation in SME. The anticipation of future building regulation of 2015 and 2020 creates an institutional pressure in education for change including handling differentiated demands of customers and contractors, not always just following regulation but occasionally ahead of it. At a time this needs to be balanced with customer needs with a comfort orientation and issues of cost and financing. The committees act in a contradictory, sometimes conservative manner in this change of institutions of knowing. In the future specialization will be supplemented by horizontal and vertical interdisciplinary and innovative competences integrating the complex process industrialized construction sector. Schools, teachers and digital teaching materials need be developed to support this change supported by front running companies and results from innovative building projects. The education committees in Denmark can have a leading role in this development and set high and motivational standards for the improvements. The analysis sees however a lot more barriers than enablers.