vocational skills and Danish lessons for construction workers.

A world of difference: ‘Just another construction worker’ or a trained professional, fluent in Danish?

IA Sprog has initiated a collaboration with the trade union 3f and the labor organization LO regarding Danish lessons and vocational skills for construction workers. The timing is excellent, because the capital region is undertaking a series of giant construction projects, such as Nordsjællands Hospital and the Greater Copenhagen Light Rail, where contractors will need all the competent labor they can find.

One afternoon in the summer of 2016, the phone rang at IA Sprog. It was consultant Veronika Kirsa from 3f, who wanted to enquire about Danish courses that would suit employees from the Metro construction. None existed. At the time.

The challenge for the Metro workers was their working hours. They had a rolling schedule with alternating night and day shifts and would not be able to follow a normal course, where classes were scheduled for the same time week after week. None of the language schools in Copenhagen had thought of that.

A unique and targeted course for construction workers – designed by IA Sprog

Today, metro workers are learning Danish at 3f in a course designed specifically for them by IA Sprog. Because the curriculum and teachers are the same for both day and evening classes, all students are able to keep up, even though they work changing hours. And the class has two teachers, because the linguistic level ranges from beginners to quite advanced.
The Danish course has become popular and the news of the exciting opportunity has spread by word of mouth within both the Metro and 3f. The classes are continuously admitting new students, and the interest and attendance are steadily increasing.

Vision: Competent, skilled labor for the Capital Region

That this an important task within education, is clear to consultant Jesper Tranberg-Hansen from LO. He has taken the initiative to get LO into the collaboration with a view to achieving the even larger vision of competent skilled labor for the Capital Region. Because in the course of the next three years, LO will be cooperating with the public recruitment services of the capital and North Zealand, among others, to ensure sufficient manpower for the many large construction projects in the Capital Region. This will be accomplished through a series of projects, including the collaboration with IA Sprog.

Jesper Tranberg-Hansen believes the initiative is spot on for the situation that the Capital Region will have to face in a few years’ time, if they do not prepare themselves ahead of time: “If we do not maintain, upgrade and educate the people who come to Denmark to build hospitals and roads, they cannot get permanent employment, and they will move on to a new country and other construction projects. This means the contractors have to start all over again with brand new employees to be taught everything from the ground up, the next time they are building. Quality construction requires competent manpower.”

It has to be possible to learn Danish regardless of your job

“The parties will work together to create a realistic vocational route for the construction workers, so they can become skilled and help to maintain the high standard that the Danish labor market is known for. And on IA Sprog’s part, we will help to ensure that anyone can learn Danish regardless of what job they have,” says counselor at IA Sprog Birte Frøkiær, who has monitored the Danish courses at 3f closely since the beginning in the fall of 2016.

“And our teachers tell me that they have never experienced so grateful and excited students as the construction workers from the Metro sites,” she adds.

Meet the students – colleagues and classmates