Abstract

This chapter examines the role of career guidance (CG) provided by trade unions for their members and the ways in which this guidance contributes to people’s plans for and access to funds for competence development, adult education and further training. In Denmark, trade unions’ contribution to career guidance has gained importance following the establishment of labour market competence development funds during the last decade. These funds are established through collective bargaining, placing trade unions in a key role. However, there is little systematic knowledge of the guidance provided by trade unions, and large sums have remained unused in the funds. In this chapter, we explore this phenomenon through a case study of the ways in which career guidance functions in trade unions. We have conducted interviews with a number of CG-practitioners working in trade unions for professional and skilled workers and here describe their work through practice portraits. These yield information on the practice and organisational framework of guidance in unions. We analyse models and strategies to support members’ career development. Furthermore, we discuss the rise in career guidance activities in trade unions as a response to a fragmented public ‘system’ for adult career guidance and a highly complex framework (the competence development funds) for economic support for competence development. Besides the practice portraits, the chapter draws on existing empirical documentation, much of it produced in relation to tripartite negotiations between the state and the social partners.