23 SES 04 D, Adult Education and Life Long Learning
In 1899, organisations representing employers and employees in Denmark agreed on what is often referred to as the ‘constitution of the labour market’ (Due & Madsen, 1999). In the agreement, the labour unions accepted the right of the employers to manage and allocate work, and the partners agreed that strikes and lockouts could take place as part of recurrent negotiations on collective agreements, but not in the time between those. That was the beginning of the ‘Danish model’ or negotiated economy (e.g. Pedersen, 2006) where not only the government but also representatives for employers and employees were involved in and responsible for policy of relevance for the labour market. A model that is to a high degree shared with the other Nordic countries (e.g. Antikainen, 2006). Skills formation is one of the policy areas where the social partners became extensively involved in all aspects from the formulation of policies through national councils to advisory functions in local school boards. This institutional set-up runs parallel for both initial and continuous vocational education and training (VET).
According to Dobbins and Busemeyer (2015), the skill formation regime in Denmark has remained relatively stable after the 1980s. In terms of adult education, which will be the focus area of this paper, the role of the social partners seem to have been strengthened from the first tripartite negotiations back in the 1940s (Mailand, 2011) to the latest in 2017. Though tripartite negotiations, thus, have a long history, in relation to adult education and training they seem to have become especially influential in the 21st Century. Tripartite negotiations have in particular played a role in relation to adult education reforms in 1999 (Mål og midler i offentligt finansieret voksen- og efteruddannelse), 2006 (Livslang uddannelse og opkvalificering for alle på arbejdsmarkedet) and 2017 (Trepartsudvalget). In this paper, our focus is on the implications of the strengthened involvement of the social partners in adult education policies. In Rasmussen et al. (2017), it is argued that a vocationalisation of adult education policy has taken place since the mid-1990s. The strengthened involvement of the social partners in adult education policy points in the same direction: As adult education policy becomes mainly (or only) about education (read: competence development) for the labour market, the organisations representing the labour market becomes obvious partners in the policy formation.
Based on this, our research question is “In what ways are the labour market partners involved in policy formation in relation to adult education in Denmark? Is it possible to identify a change in the strength and form of influence of the different actors, and if yes, can it be related to the change from welfare state to competition state?”
Theoretically, we expect to build on a combination of theories on policy network (e.g. Ball, 2012), corporatism/negotiated economies (e.g. Pedersen, 2006), skills formation regimes (e.g. Dobbins & Busemeier, 2015; Trampusch & Eichenberger, 2012), welfare state typologies (e.g. Esping-Andersen, 1990) and the competition state (e.g. Pedersen, 2011). We also expect that the concept of the precariat and the global changes of the labour market described by Standing (2011) and Heymann and Earle (2010) may be relevant to draw on in the discussion of our results.
Although, the paper investigates Denmark as a case, the study will be of relevance to an understanding of the incremental changes taking place in skills formation systems and thus institutional drift. We also hope to be able to shed light on the relative strengths of the various actors in collectivist regimes and establish the consequences for how adult education is politically conceived.
The paper is based on historical document analysis and through a synchronic historical analysis, we analyse the interests and underlying values of the state, the employers and the unions in adult education with the aim of identifying the subtle drifts in what is depicted as a relatively stable skills formation system. Our main focus will be on three tripartite negotiations concerning adult education and training from 1999 to 2017 as well as an attempted agreement in 2014. We have chosen to look into the tripartite negotiations that in particular have played a role in relation to adult education policies: • the 1999 reform established an adult education system as a parallel to the formal education system for adolescents corresponding to the levels from ninth grade to master degree (Mål og midler i offentligt finansieret voksen- og efteruddannelse); • the 2006 agreement established competence funds and an obligation for members of employers’ organisations to contribute to the funds on the basis of number of organised employees (Livslang uddannelse og opkvalificering for alle på arbejdsmarkedet); • Finally, the 2017 agreement aimed at strengthening competence development to meet labour market demands (Trepartsudvalget). The agreements will be historically situated, and the main drivers for change identified. For instance, the agreement from 1999 and the attempted agreement in 2014 took place under social-democratic/social-liberal coalition governments, while the 2006 agreement took place under a conservative/liberal coalition government and the 2017 agreement under a conservative/liberal/neo-liberal government. This makes it possible also to include the potential influence of the ideological base of the government in the analysis. In addition to the actual agreements, the analysis will include documents leading up to the agreements and adult education policy from the employers’ and the employees’ organisations respectively in the years around the agreements.
Our thesis is that the employers have strengthened their bargaining position due to economic globalisation and the consensual policy centred around the idea of the competition state (Pedersen, 2011) whereas the unions have adopted the idea of human capital as the main driver of their skills formation strategies accepting the competition state as a condition. When reading the 2017 agreement, for instance, it is striking how the agreement is centred around the needs of the enterprises rather than the needs of the individual employee/worker.
Antikainen, A. (2006). In Search of the Nordic Model in Education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 50(3), 229-243. doi:10.1080/00313830600743258 Ball, S. J. (2012). Global education INC: New policy networks and the neoliberal imaginary. Oxon: Routledge. Dobbins, M., & Busemeier, M. R. (2015). Socio-economic institutions, organized interests and partisan politics: the development of vocational education in Denmark and Sweden. Socio-Economic Review, 13(2), 259–284. Due, J., & Madsen, J. S. (1999). Septemberforliget og den danske model: baggrund, indhold og udvikling 1899-1999. København: Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening & Landsorganisationen i Danmark. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Heymann, J., & Earle, A. (2010). Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth That We Can’t Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone. Standford: Standford University Press. Livslang uddannelse og opkvalificering for alle på arbejdsmarkedet - rapport fra Trepartsudvalget. Sammenfatning. (2006). Copenhagen: Danish Ministry of Finance. Mailand, M. (2011). Trepartssamarbejdet gennem tiderne – hvordan, hvornår og hvilke udfordringer FAOS: Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. Mål og midler i offentligt finansieret voksen- og efteruddannelse. (1999). København: Finansministeriet. Pedersen, O. K. (2006). Corporatism and beyond: The Negotiated Economy. In J. L. Campbell, J. A. Hall, & O. K. Pedersen (Eds.), National Identity and the Varieties of Capitalism. The Danish Experience (pp. 245-270). Copenhagen: DJØF Publishing. Pedersen, O. K. (2011). Konkurrencestaten. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag. Rasmussen, P., Larson, A., & Cort, P. (2017). Adult Education – From Visible to Invisible?Recent policy developments in Denmark. Paper presented at the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) conference, Verona, Italy. Standing, G. (2011). The precariat. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Trampusch, C., & Eichenberger, P. (2012). Skills and Industrial Relations in Coordinated Market Economies — Continuing Vocational Training in Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 50(4), 644–666. Trepartsudvalget. (2017). Trepartsaftale om styrket og mere fleksibel voksen-, efter- og videreuddannelse (2018-2021). København: Undervisningsministeriet.
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