How do we strengthen the area of Central and Western Jutland?

There is a natural and healthy competitive relationship between the larger and minor cities in Central and Western Jutland, but the cities need to work together in contributing to the common cause of raising the level of the education in the area. It is a prerequisite for securing the positive development of our region.

By Helge Sander, Chairman of the External Council at AU Herning

Both the public sector and the large and small companies in the area need a highly educated workforce in the future. And therefore, we need to stand together in making sure that we are able to retain and attract enough highly educated employees. Almost all the companies and organisations that employ highly educated people see a positive development and are eventually able to hire even more employees. It is also worth noting that when a company hires a highly educated employee, it creates work for people with other educational backgrounds.

The fact is that most of the country’s long-cycle post-secondary degree programmes are offered only in the country’s major cities. We also know that there is a “big city syndrome” among young people today. They want to stay in the city once they have completed their degrees, and they are not easy to draw away. We acknowledge that this big city syndrome is a challenge to us in Central and Western Jutland, and at Aarhus University’s department in Herning (AU Herning) – the only university department in the area – we are working to alleviate this problem. We want to retain the young people who were born in the area and those who are studying here and be as self-sufficient as possible in terms of producing the highly educated employees that we need for companies and organisations in Central and Western Jutland.

Conference on positive and sustainable growth in Central and Western Jutland

A common denominator for all of us in Central and Western Jutland is that we need to secure positive and sustainable growth in the area, and AU Herning is eager to help in this endeavour. If AU Herning can contribute to creating value for the municipalities of Ringkøbing-Skjern, Holstebro, Struer, Lemvig, Skive, Morsø, Viborg, Ikast-Brande or Herning, then we would very much like to do so. Aarhus University’s department in Herning is already working to establish collaborations between researchers and students on the one hand and the municipalities, the Central Denmark Region and the business community on the other.

But how can we all contribute to pulling the area of Central and Western Jutland in the right direction, to the benefit of all? And how can the university contribute to this? At AU Herning we would like to be able to provide more specific answers to these questions. So to that end we have organised a conference, where we will be discussing how AU Herning can help strengthen the area. The conference takes place on Monday 6 October. Minister for Higher Education and Science Sofie Carsten Nielsen will attend the conference and give the opening speech. The conference programme also includes presentations by prominent people from several companies and organisations in the area.

Following the opening speech, there will be a panel discussion where representatives from the business community and trade union will ask Sofie Carsten Nielsen a series of questions. Members of the panel are Kenneth Iversen (former director of Kyocera Unimerco), Helge Albertsen (chairman of the Danish Metalworkers' Union, Dansk Metal Skjern-Ringkøbing) and Nicolai Hansen (Managing Director of KMC).

Moreover, Chairman of the Regional Council Bent Hansen and Jens Friis Bak, Medical Director of the Regional Hospital West Jutland, will give presentations about the region’s and the hospitals’ perspectives on the development of Central and Western Jutland and how they may collaborate with the university. There will also be presentations by Per H. Lauritsen (Head of Research at Siemens), Kenneth Mikkelsen (Director of the Business Development Centre Herning & Ikast-Brande) and Søren Sloth (Chairman of the Business Council Northwestern Jutland), who represent both large and small companies in the area. Last but not least, Rector Brian Bech Nielsen and Vice-Dean Peder Østergaard from Aarhus University will give presentations regarding the quality and relevance within the field of education.