Intership nudging

How Mercantec uses internship nudging to inspire student action

Focus area


Inst. type

Vocational Education College


In 2020, as part of an agreement to address labour shortage challenges and secure more skilled workers, the Danish government and its social partners decided that vocational students should no longer be solely responsible for securing an internship and that schools should play a bigger role in tackling this challenge.

Denmark’s vocational education begins with a basic programme consisting of a first basic course (GF1) and a second basic course (GF2). The goal of the agreement was for at least 80% of the students on GF2 to have an internship lined up before the basic course ends.

To achieve this objective, Mercantec, a leading Danish vocational education provider decided to investigate whether efforts can be made to encourage and nudge students to seek and apply for an internship earlier.

The Challenge

Working with StudentPulse, a powerful microsurvey tool that provides real-time insights into students’ performance and well-being, Mercantec launched a pilot project in 2021 which aimed to:

  1. Actively use students' answers and data to boost their internship search;
  2. Identify students that needed help with securing an internship and allowing them to request coaching; and
  3. Measure how willing students were to use StudentPulse as a tool to share their thoughts.

The Solution

Over a period of five weeks, the pilot project was carried out with students from two education programmes: computer education and electrician education. Then following the success of the pilot project, StudentPulse was expanded to include students from other faculties and rolled out for a whole year.

Aligning objectives and collecting feedback at regular intervals

Prior to launching the microsurveys to students, StudentPulse consultants worked with Mercantec to ensure that objectives and questions posed to students are mapped and aligned, in order to yield useful results. Students were then presented with a series of questions at separate intervals to enable student sentiments to be captured at different points in time and for any shifts in perspective and well-being to be noted and analysed.

Leveraging data for insights

Through the students’ survey, Mercantec is able to regularly gather information on how many students have been given an apprenticeship as well as what actions they took to succeed and what did not succeed. This information was then constructively shared with the Mercantec team and other students to enable further action.

On-going review to ensure optimal results

Throughout the pilot period, StudentPulse consultants supported Mercantec in reviewing data collected, overall results and recommendations, as well as ensuring that the question framework continues to be relevant.

Breaking internship records

In 2022, 83% of data and IT students at Mercantec have signed training agreements with a company. Through the power of data, Mercantec successfully surpassed the 80% target set in the agreement and now holds the Danish record for apprenticeships in computer and IT electronics. In comparison, the national average for training agreements within data and IT in 2022 is 32%.

High student participation

During the 5-week pilot period, 90% of students participated, with more than a 100 responses recorded which gave Mercantec confidence that a significant majority of students are willing and able to share their perspectives using StudentPulse.  

Concrete insights

Through StudentPulse, concrete and useful patterns and insights surfaced to enable action. For example, from the responses received, factors that influenced success turned out to be students starting the internship search early, taking part in work placements, taking part in speed dating events, being competent at writing CVs, and reaching out to their network. Knowing these success factors, Mercantec can take action to secure better outcomes for other students. On the flipside, information on how students are challenged also proved useful as Mercantec can then allocate resources to specific challenges for specific students, for example in relation to application, CV, geography, professionalism and personality.

Targeted support

Via StudentPulse, students without an internship agreement can be directed to request help from an apprenticeship consultant, who not only has the knowledge of how students land an apprenticeship but what companies specifically demand. The apprenticeship consultant sits on a gold mine of information that gives students without an internship agreement the best conditions for signing one.

Inspired action

Mercantec have assessed that the effect of nudging through StudentPulse was clear, as students themselves became aware of the importance of beginning their internship search early and began to be more outgoing to seek and take charge of their own internship experience.

"Working with John and his team is an absolute privilege. Right from the beginning you could really feel that there was this sincere interest in helping students succeed - beyond the school itself"

Rune Sønderby

Student Experience Director, StudentPulse