02 SES 04 B, VET: The Challenge of Diverse Communities
As a regional University approaches a century’s provision of higher education and vocational education and training, it is developing a presence as a ‘University Town’, emphasising learning, development and innovation. European Commission projects (2009) emphasising the importance of high quality education and training for welfare and the development of a knowledge based society, and of education’s contribution to lifelong learning provide examplars for such research.
The university is located in an area which has experienced waves of migration and refugees, high youth unemployment and the decline of manufacturing and industry, a scenario familiar to many European countries. The face of the local workforce is changing, with shifting skill requirements emphasising white collar, service and part time work and decreasing manufacturing and industry work.
Insight into the education and training landscape of the suburb is gained from the participants’ accounts of the informal and formal learning undertaken and of what they value. Enhanced understanding and knowledge of the suburb’s residents and workers’ experiences and views on education and training importantly provide an opportunity to assess the extent of the commitment to learning in the workplace and community, a policy which is integral to the university’s stated vision and mission. The connections between the people, the place, their workplaces and education and training are explored.
Questions as to the identity, shaping and future prosects for community arise. Who is the public? What would community like to be and do to enable people to be self determining? How does learning come into the public sphere? How can enhanced understanding of what it means to be in the public be encouraged? How can public space be reclaimed by people? What pathways can be developed for translational learning, for new learning and spaces in the public sphere? What can educators contribute to social pedagogy? How can the public, as lifelong learners be empowered?
The study is framed by the concept of public pedagogy (Sandlin, O’Malley and Burdick, 2011) indicating education research as a focus on processes and sites of education beyond formal schooling. Giroux’ work (2010) provides challenges to the university to provide opportunities for access and learning, to contribute to critique and the public good. Universities can be ‘caught’between such goals and concerns to provide work ready graduates.
The everyday world of learning in the workplace, informal learning, vocational education and training, learning from popular culture and media, can appear far from that of the academy. Whilst partnerships with industry and community are important to the university, there is a question as to how local workplaces and community value such goals. The intersections of the world of the university and the local community are mapped and form a basis for further interactions.
Research into workplace learning has explored workplace pedagogy (Billett, 2002) and the nuances of workers learning on the job, informally, though experience and through more formal modes. This project brings an holistic approach to the dimensions of the learners as members of a range of communities, and of learning communities (Wenger, 1998).
A second perspective framing the study is that of ‘place’. Cairns and Malloch (2013) argue that ‘place’ has physical, virtual, personal and spiritual dimensions, and that learning occurs across all these dimensions, a process of change through activity. The research participants are located in specific geographic and organisational spaces, their workplaces, and their social and personal activities. Their learning transcends these into the life space, an aspect explored in the interviews.
This education researcher initiated work aims to make a ‘distinct’ contribution through this study and analysis of intersections and implications of living, working and learning in a community.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2012) stats.abs.gov.au/itt/r-sp?RegionSummary=2130348&data.set Atlas.idcom.au/MaribyrnongCity/atlas.id, Unemployment Statistics, accessed January 2015. Billett, S., (2002) Towards a workplace pedagogy: Guidance, participation and engagement, Adult Education Quarterly, 53, 1, 27 - 43 Cairns, L., and Malloch, M., (2013) Theories of Work, Place and Learning: New Directions, in Malloch, M., Cairns, L., Evans, K., and O’Connor, B.N., (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Workplace Learning, SAGE Publications Ltd, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi and Singapore Chadderton, C., and Colley, H., (2012) School-to-work transition services: Marginalising ‘disposable’ youth in a state of exception,? Discourse Studies in the cultural politics of education, 33:3, 329 – 343 Delors, J,., (1996) Learning: The Treasure Within, Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Centurym UNESCO Publishing, Paris, France European Commission, European Research on Education and Training, Directorate General for Education, European Commission, Brusssls Fuller, A., and Unwin, L., Workplace Learning and the Organization, in Malloch, M., Cairns, L., Evans, K., and O’Connor, B., (eds) (2013) The SAGE Handbook of Workplace Learning, SAGE, London, 2013 released in paperback Giroux, (2010) Higher Education: Reclaiming the University as a Democratic Public Sphere, in Mark Major, ed. Where Do We Go From Here?: Politics and the Renewal of the Radical Imagination, Lexington Books, Boulder, pp. 71-83. Glaser, H., and Bingham, S., (2009) Students’ perceptions of their connectedness in the community college basic Public Speaking course, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 57 – 69 Healy, C., (1986) The Lifeblood of Footscray Working Lives at the William Angliss Meatworks, Melbournne’s Living Museum of the West, Footscray Rodd, H., (2014) Soul House Project Report, West Footscray Neighbourhood House Sandlin. J. A., O’Malley, M. P., and Burdick, J., (2011) Mapping the Complexity of Public Pedagogy Scholarship 1894 – 2010, Review of Educational Research Vol. 81, No.3 338-375; accessed: 2011 AERA http://rer.aera.net Wenger, E., (1998) Communities of Practice Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge University Press, USA
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