01 SES 15 B, Beyond the Classroom: Veterans, Adults and Workplace Learning
The European planning for the next seven years (2021-2027) aims to guide Europe towards the dual green and digital transition and make society and economies more resilient and just (EC, 2020a), further strengthened by the tools and devices to support the post-pandemic recovery (eg. NextgenerationEU). The European strategy is linked to a political agenda focused on the development of citizens' skills, implementing the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights: access to quality education, training and lifelong learning for all and throughout the European Union (EC, 2020b). The “European Education Area” by 2025 for bringing down barriers and promoting innovative and inclusive education and training, the “Pact for skills” in boosting joint action of businesses, social partners and other stakeholders to maximise the impact of skills investment, the “Skills for Jobs”, for up- and reskilling based on providing modern and dynamic education and training directly linked with labour market and societal needs and on empowering people with innovative tools, more flexible and accessible learning pathways are the main elements that shape the European policy agenda for the next years (EC, 2020c). Therefore, a crucial issue also seems to be the qualification and improvement of adult education and its professionals. The megatrends of society development (ie digitalization, demographic and environmental challenges, human mobility) are having an impact on how education and training are delivered in Europe, fostering the shift from the centrality of formal education to informal and embedded education and the emergence of new trajectories in lifelong learning and continuing education (EC, 2019). A strategic issue is understanding how to train new professionals or offer training backgrounds to those involved in various ways/capacities in Adult Learning (AL) and Continuing Education (CE), beyond the care and education professions. Professions in the field have been characterized in the last twenty years by profound changes regarding the contexts in which professionals work as well as the required areas of expertise and skill set (Federighi, 2015, 2020). An extensive discussion about dimensions that shape adult and continuing education as a profession has led to a shift from “traditional professions” to “new professionalism” (Egetenmeyer, Breitschwerdt, & Lechner, 2019). The 2008 ALPINE report focused on adult learning professions in the field of Non-Vocational Adult Learning with reference to teaching, management, counselling and others, in order to analyze pathways leading to the profession as well as employment situation and attractiveness of the sector (Research voor Beleid, 2008). Furthermore, the 2010 Cedefop’s report focused onin-company trainers underlined that they were changing roles, from teaching to “helping learning processes for learners who may differ greatly in terms of learning needs, in the context of steady changes related to work processes and labor market needs” (p. 7). These changes are related to an emergent variability and multidimensionality of roles and tasks that professionals cover in a variety of organizational settings and occupational areas (Lipari, 2012), related to the teaching sector (with reference to formal and non-formal education that is the “traditional one”) and to the non-teaching one (with reference to e.g. informal education, consultancy). Within the described framework, the research design intends to explore and map emerging professional contexts and emerging professions related to AL and CE that escape definitions provided by formalized classifications and mapped areas of competencies. The research project is guided by the following research question: what are emerging professional contexts and related emerging professions related to the field of adult learning and continuing education?
A mixed-method approach (Creswell, 2008; Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009) has been followed by the research group. Specifically, the mixed methods design includes a sequential exploratory strategy (QUAL-quant) and a triangulation of methods and sources to examine the complexity and multi-dimensionality of the investigated phenomenon (Ponce & Pagàn-Maldonato, 2015). According to this research strategy, the following phases have been planned. The desk research and literature review phases are oriented towards emerging concepts, ideas, framework on new professionalism, emerging and hybrid professions in AL and CE. These activities will provide the criteria for preparing the qual-quant data collection tools and guidelines. Key informants’ identification methods: ● via analysis of report (at a European or national level) in the field of AL and CE ● via contact with main European associations (ESREA, EAEA...) in the field of AL and CE ● via contact with national associations/delegation (e.g. AIF, ICF, etc.) in the field of AL and CE The procedure of gathering qualitative data, guided by the research questions, aims to explore the phenomenon and identify emerging context and professional profiles working within the field/area of adult learning and continuing education. Specifically, the qualitative data collection will be carried out through a semi-structured interview addressed to a convenience sample of key informants working in the European area. The first phase is still in progress and the results will be presented. Exploratory Design is appropriate in order to study an emerging topic which has been little explored recently. In this design, the qualitative data is collected and analyzed first, followed by the collection and analysis of the quantitative data. The interview protocol is connected to the purpose of the research and aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues of interest, taking into account the following dimensions: emerging contexts related to education and training, adult learning and continuing education processes, emerging profiles not directly fitting into formalized classifications of occupations, competencies areas and connected work contexts. The next quantitative phase will be based on the design and administration of a self-compiled questionnaire addressed to adult educators and trainers, and consultants working within the mapped contexts. Both qualitative and quantitative phases will be followed by a computer-assisted analysis procedure in order to clearly identify: emerging context and professions (qualitative phase) and core competencies, skills, and methodological apparatus that characterized emerging professions in the field of AL and CE (quantitative phase).
Degree Courses in Educational Sciences and Adult Education - called to define learning contents and teaching methods aligned with both learning outcomes and the labour market’s demand - as well as Degree Courses not directly connected with education and training, but from which professionals who actually operate in the CE field come, are invited to reflect on context and professions variability in the field of AL and CE. Furthermore, placement and career services as well are involved by this analysis in order to ensure cooperation opportunities with professional contexts in which emerging AL and CE professionals work nowadays. In line with the above, the expected outcomes of the research project are related firstly to the identification of emerging contexts and professionals in the field of Adult Learning and Continuing Education (qualitative phase). Secondly, concerning these emerging professions, the quantitative phase will lead to: the identification of core competencies and skills that characterized these emerging professions and the collection of the methodological apparatus that supports their work. Furthermore, the research contributes to create a strong relationship between building the European Education Area and the European Research Area, with a specific focus on education research, for: ● bringing out the learning and training dimension embedded in the organizational and professional processes and contexts. ● providing suggestions for designing and redesigning higher education degree courses for training professionals in adult education and training paths for those working in the AE and CE without a pedagogical and educational background. ● overcoming the classification logic of professions towards a vision that connects among them the constituted elements - the “core competencies” - and with operational contexts, according to an ecosystem approach.
Cedefop. (2010). Professional development opportunities for in-company trainers A compilation of good practices. Online https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/6106 Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. Egetenmeyer, R., Breitschwerdt, L., & Lechner, R. (2019). From ‘traditional professions’ to ‘new professionalism’: A multi-level perspective for analysing professionalisation in adult and continuing education. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 25(1), 7-24. European Commission (2020a). Commission Work Programme 2021. Bruxelles: European Commission. European Commission (2020b). Strategic Foresight Report. Bruxelles: European Commission. European Commission (2020c). European skills agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience. Bruxelles: European Commission. European Commission (2019). Summary of findings and of the discussions at the 2019 Forum on the Future of Learning. European Commission: Bruxelles Federighi P. (2015). How to solve the issue on mismatch between demand and supply of competences. Higher education of education and training professionals in the social economy. In: Boffo V., Federighi P. and Torlone F., editors, Educational Jobs: Youth and Employability in the Social Economy. Firenze: Firenze University Press. Federighi P. (2020). Margini di autonomia relativa delle Università, mercato della formazione e mercato del lavoro dei professionisti dell’educazione e della formazione. Nuova Secondaria Ricerca, 10: 67-79. Lipari, D. (2012). Formatori. Etnografia di un arcipelago professionale. Milano: FrancoAngeli. Ponce, O., and Pagan-Maldonado, N. (2015). Mixed methods research in education: Capturing the complexity of the profession. International Journal of Educational Excellence, 1(1):111–135. Research voor Beleid. (2008). ALPINE. Adult Learning Professions in Europe. A study of the current situation, trends and issues. Online http://www.anc.edu.ro/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Research_study_on_Adult_Learning_Profess-1.pdf Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioral sciences. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.
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