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Apprentice or student? The structuring of construction industry vocational education and training in Denmark and Sweden and its possible consequences for safety learning

Journal article
Authors Regine Grytnes
Martin Grill
Anders Pousette
Marianne Törner
Kent Nielsen
Published in Vocations and Learning
Volume 11
Issue 1
Pages 65–87
ISSN 1874-785X
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Pages 65–87
Language en
Keywords Vocational education and training Workplace safety Connectivity VET curriculum Mixed methods Scandinavia
Subject categories Social Psychology, Applied Psychology, Educational Sciences


There is a notable difference in occupational injury rates in the two Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Denmark, with the latter having a 40% higher rate of fatal occupational injuries in the construction industry. This study explored differences in the vocational education and training (VET) systems between Sweden and Denmark that may be important for students’ safety learning and practice during VET. In both countries, students participate in full-time education, and the curriculum includes school-based as well as company- based training. However, during company- based training Swedish students retain their student status, whereas Danish students are employed as apprentices. From a perspective of viewing safety as a social practice developed through interactions of different social and institutional bodies, the analysis points to this difference in employment status as important for their safety practices and also for the teachers’ position to influence safety learning and practices during company-based training. An analysis of interview and survey data focusing on how VET students enact safety ‘knowings’ across learning sites, suggest how different forms of connectivity models in VET promote various forms of safety learning among students.

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