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Education and Innovation – Uddannelse og Innovation

“Resultaterne er nedslående” – The results are discouraging. This would have been a fancy subtitle for the Danish analysis report on education and innovation, compiled and published by the Danish Productivity Commission.

The report – the fourth in a series of so far five assessments of the Danish economical state of affairs – contains harsh criticism of Denmark’s education system and dooms it as inefficient and unproductive. The authors of the report follow a strict logic as regards productivity: high productivity = high salary. This, in turn, means higher tax revenues, higher consumption and a higher overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Denmark, however, is apparently not doing as well as it could or should, which brings into play the Productivity Commission  – an expert panel appointed by Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt in order to assess the reasons for Denmark’s stagnating economic growth and productivity.

Admittedly, the Productivity Commission’s report does draw attention to some important issues of the Danish education system. Although Denmark is spending more than 8 % of its Gross National Product (GNP) on education, one of the highest shares among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states, the country’s achievements within the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) are below OECD average. Moreover, the number of students who do not finish their studies after two years of the prescribed duration – which in the report is automatically equated with dropout – amounts to 45 %. A central problem to Denmark’s productivity is seen in the lack of connection between university education and demands of the labour market. Slightly more than 5 % of newly enrolled students make their choice of study on the basis of the labour market situation. The majority tends to choose humanities related fields, whose graduates are likely to be found among the highest rate of unemployed university graduates – on average around 6 % – and who earn significantly less than graduates of other fields.

These and many other factors lead to a situation in which the Danish education system is not complying with labour market needs and is, thus, creating a productivity problem for the country. Consequently, the report calls for taking labour market developments into consideration and, bluntly said, more fast-track studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students. Luckily, according to the World Happiness Report 2013, Denmark is the happiest nation in the world – so they probably will not worry too much.

Should you speak or understand Danish you can follow the links below. If not you can also stare at some of the garish green pages of the report and get a fun after-image effect. 

Produktivitetskommissionen - Press release (in Danish)

Uddannelse og Innovation - Report (in Danish)

Uddannelse og Innovation - Short report (in Danish)