02 SES 04 B, Work-Based Learning: Linking VET, Enterprises And Professional Practice
Parallel Paper Session
Workplace learning is not seen solely as a matter of acquiring knowledge, developing professional competency, or updating skills. Recent discussion and studies have emphasized that workplace learning also comprises the formation and transformation of workers’ identities and social practices (Billett, 2011; Eteläpelto, 2008; Lin & Bound, 2011). Thus, learning through and for work can be seen as a dual process in which individual change is accompanied by the remaking of social practices. Many scholars have taken the view that workplace is embedded in a relationship between factors and contributions that are both social and personal (Billett, 2008; Hodkinson et al., 2008).
With these considerations in mind, workplace learning is here understood in terms of social and individual transformation, involving i) educational and workplace practices, and ii) subjects’ professional identities (usually understood as subjects’ conceptions of themselves as professional actors, see e.g. Vähäsantanen & Eteläpelto, 2011). Following this line of understanding, the paper seeks to demonstrate how workplace learning emerges, and why it may not occur. In particular, the paper seeks to contribute to emerging discussion on the central role and significance of agency for workplace learning (Billett, 2011), and further, to promote a stronger focus on professional agency in the workplace learning field.
The empirical investigation reported here was conducted in the context of Finnish initial vocational education and training (VET). Initial VET has traditionally been school-based rather than workplace-based. However, recent educational reforms at national and local levels have transformed initial VET. The prime aim has been to break down the traditional separation between schools and workplaces, and to introduce a system for students’ workplace learning (e.g. Virtanen, Tynjälä & Stenström, 2008). The changes that have been introduced have transformed the tasks of vocational teachers. Increasingly, these teachers are obliged to work outside the school, cooperating with workplace personnel, and implementing duties related to students’ learning within the workplace.
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