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Danes to build fighter jets for Lockheed Martin

By CEO of the Confederation of Danish Industry Karsten Dybvad and President of the Danish Union of Metalworkers Claus Jensen.


Of course, it is true – Denmark is small and only a tiny dot on the big world map. But Denmark is a country with many valuable relationships around the world. Not least in terms of trade.

Those relationships did not come out of nowhere. They have been built up because Danish industry has expertise to offer. And when we have the opportunity to show the rest of the world that we are among the best – that is precisely what we need to do.

That is why the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Union of Metalworkers has now teamed up with Multicut A/S to send three Danish industrial technician apprentices to the United States. Both to give these young people valuable experience – but also to send a clear signal to the Americans that our two countries enjoy a strong relationship that we wish to develop even further.

In two weeks’ time, Asger, Nicklas and Robert will be packing their bags and flying to Fort Worth in Texas where they will be undertaking two months’ work experience with Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers. Lockheed Martin will also be supplying Denmark’s 27 new F35 fighter jets.


Vocational qualifications are not a dead end

The usual caricature of vocational training in which an apprentice certificate inexorably leads to a career at ‘the factory’, clocking in, doing eight hours of monotonous work at ‘the machine’, eating the same standard sandwiches for lunch and clocking out again at the end of the day is, luckily, very far from the truth.

A career as a skilled worker can also be a ticket to an exciting and varied working life which can even be undertaken abroad. So far, however, there has been no real tradition for the exchange of apprentices. But why not?

Thousands of Danish graduates, engineers and others with degree-level education have the opportunity to study abroad as part of their course. But what is a talented engineer worth if he does not have a team of skilled workers to rely on? That is why we believe that the exchange of skilled workers should become much more common than it is today. Because it is not only at an academic level that the world has become smaller. 

Across the world, skilled workers from Danish manufacturers are working on the installation and maintenance of everything from wind turbines, dairy equipment and water and heating pumps to many other kinds of manufacturing machinery in which Danish skilled workers possess top levels of expertise.

The skills students gain through vocational training are high-level skills that can be used anywhere in the world. It should therefore become second nature for us in future to give apprentices in the Danish manufacturing industries the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience outside Denmark.

The reason that the Danish Union of Metalworkers and Multicut A/S have entered into a training partnership with Lockheed Martin is, of course, because we are proud of our apprentices. We want to show the Americans and the rest of the world that skilled workers from Denmark are among some of the best in the world. This is confirmed every time we send our industrial technician apprentices off to World Skills competitions.


Fewer than one in five opt for a vocational qualification


Despite the many opportunities offered by vocational qualifications, we are, unfortunately, seeing that many young people are not opting for this kind of training. Although it looks as if the trend has been bucked this year, fewer than one in five currently choose a vocational qualification.

That is why we – a partnership of employers, employees and educational establishments – have an important responsibility to draw attention to the fact that vocational education really does open doors and increases opportunities for both professional and personal development both in Denmark and abroad. This project is only one among many initiatives launched by the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Union of Metalworkers to raise the profile and attractiveness of vocational training.

The exchange of young people – apprentices and students alike – constitutes an invaluable contribution to both educational content and the workplace itself. The young people we send out come back with experience and expertise that boost our training programmes and the enterprises in which these apprentices later choose to work.

Similarly, these young people also affect the employers they visit. They ask new questions and provide new answers. They challenge what we take for granted and have other bases on which to identify new answers to old questions.

Nicklas, Asger and Robert will hopefully have an unforgettable stay in Texas and will come home with a suitcase full of valuable experience. But just as important is the signal that they will be sending to the Americans – namely that commerce and exchanges between our two nations form the basis of a strong relationship that we value highly and wish to develop even further.
Nicklas, Asger and Robert will hopefully have an unforgettable stay in Texas and will come home with a suitcase full of valuable experience.
CEO OF THE CONFEDERATION OF DANISH INDUSTRY KARSTEN DYBVAD AND PRESIDENT OF THE DANISH UNION OF METALWORKERS CLAUS JENSEN
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PUBLISHED: 4/19/2018 LAST MODIFIED: 4/19/2018