Clear lack of educational materials on reuse of construction materials at Nordic vocational schools

Publiceret 24-05-2023

A new mapping across the Nordic countries finds a great gap in educational materials about reuse of construction materials for vocational educations.

In an era of increasing environmental consciousness, the imperative to adopt sustainable practices is more urgent than ever before. Among the various industries that play a significant role in shaping our planet's ecological footprint, the construction sector stands at the forefront. As the demand for construction continues to rise, so does the need for innovative solutions that prioritise resource efficiency, waste reduction and the circular economy.

Prioritising sustainability and reuse

Within the construction sector, vocational education holds immense potential to transform the sector’s approach to sustainability. Vocational training programmes have traditionally focused on imparting technical skills and knowledge to equip students with the tools they need to thrive in their respective trades. However, in an era defined by climate change and dwindling resources, it is crucial to expand the curriculum of vocational education to include the principles of the reuse agenda.

As we navigate the path towards a greener future, it is imperative to equip the builders of tomorrow with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions that prioritise sustainability. By embracing the reuse agenda in vocational education, we can empower a new generation of builders who will reshape the sector, reduce waste, conserve resources and pave the way for a more sustainable and resilient built environment.

Findings across the Nordic countries

However, a recent mapping of educational material for vocational education and training across all the Nordic countries shows that there is very little accessible educational material for the teachers to use on reuse of construction material.

The mapping identified a total of 61 different teaching materials from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark. 36 of these materials all come from the same Danish source. In total, 46 of the materials are Danish, and 15 materials stem from the other four countries: Finland 2; Iceland 4; Norway 4 and Sweden 5.

Education materials in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland

The search has had a broader scope than only on reuse of construction materials in order to ensure that all relevant material was included in the mapping. However, even with this wider scope, little material was found. In general, all the materials from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have a broader and more generic scope than reuse of construction materials (e.g. sustainability, sustainable construction, The Sustainable Development Goals or circular economy).

At the same time, some of the located materials are not targeted vocational education but high school students or adult/in-service training. A selection of these could, nonetheless, be suitable for teachings in vocational education, but are insufficient for covering teachings in reuse of construction material.  

Education material in Denmark to build and renovate more sustainably

A more substantial amount of teaching material has been located in Denmark, with reference to especially Bæredygtigt Byggeri DK, Sustainable 2.0 and the material from The Knowledge Centre on Crafts and Sustainability (Videnscenter for Håndværk og  Bæredygtighed).

The knowledge centre has 36 different materials on their site, which vary in scope, methods and thoroughness. The material is generally on a more generic basis, as most of the located material is not developed for the purpose of teachings in specific professions, but is aimed at vocational education in general or at all the professions targeting the construction sector.

Meanwhile, most of the Danish material does not focus explicitly on reuse of construction materials, but incorporates the subject under larger themes such as circular economy, waste handling at the construction site or sustainable materials. This might make it challenging for the teachers to compose courses on reuse of construction materials, even though there is available material within the subject.

Even though, the mapping shows that there is a gap in the supply of educational materials that could support teachers in teaching reuse of construction materials at vocational educations, it must, however, be emphasised that it does not mean that nobody teaches reuse of conatcution materials.

Visit our knowledge centre to view the mapping of educational material to build more sustainable.

The mapping is part of the first phase of our project about boosting reuse of construction materials at vocational educations and training in the Nordic countries. Read more about the project on Competences for Reuse in Construction here