02 SES 09 B, Work-Based Learning: Basic Skills and Curriculum Innovations
Parallel Paper Session
The 2001 European Commission Memorandum on Lifelong Learning remains one of the most important influences on policy development in lifelong learning throughout the EU. The right is emphasized for all workers to have a level of ‘basic skills’ necessary for employment and citizenship participation. Governments have adopted a variety of approaches, in some cases promoting large-scale publicly–funded programmes (OECD 2006). The shape and delivery of these programmes has been determined to a large extent by the economic and institutional structures of the country in question (Evans, 2009) with England giving a higher priority to workplace delivery of literacy and language provision than many other countries, including , within the UK, Scotland and Wales. Using longitudinal data from the ESRC-funded ‘Adult Basic Skills and Workplace learning’ project (2003-2008), together with recent findings from research undertaken in LLAKES (ESRC Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies), this paper addresses the research question: what are key factors that facilitate and inhibit sustainable workplace provision for the development of employees’ ‘basic’ skills, particularly in the area of literacy development? Findings from the research in companies based in England and Scotland are compared with the factors and conditions identified in Bruhlin and Svensson's (2012) Swedish study of the impact of large scale EU-funded programmes.
We draw on the metaphor of a social ecology of learning (Bronfenbrenner, 1979;Weaver-Hightower, 2008; Evans, 2006,2009;Evans and Waite, 2011) to explore the inter-relationships between individuals and groups at policy and organizational levels and combine this with Michael de Certeau’s theoretical work on ‘quotidian’ social practices in order to cast light on the diverse ways in which workplace provision has been put to use by learners. Michel de Certeau’s work on quotidian social practices - and in particular his conceptual distinction between ‘strategies’ and ‘tactics’- provide a useful theoretical framework for understanding the processes of adaptation and accommodation entailed in the implementation of this type of provision. Rather than explicitly subverting or rejecting dimensions of workplace provision (Illeris 2011) the research reveals what employees have ‘made of’ the opportunities afforded by these courses and the learning spaces at work ( Kersh 2010; Kirpal 2011) by using them with regard to ends and references that extend beyond the workplace.
Biesta, G. and Tedder, M. (2007) ‘Agency and Learning in the Lifecourse: Towards an Ecological Perspective’, Studies in the Education of Adults, 39, 2, pp. 132-149. Bruhlin, G. and Svensson, L. ( 2012) Managing Sustainable Development Programmes: A Learning Approach to Change. Aldershot: Gower Publishing Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979) The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Harvard University Press, Cambridge. De Certeau, M (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press Evans, K. (2009) Learning, Work and Social Responsibilty: Challenges for Lifelong Learning in a Global Age: Dordrecht: Springer. Evans, K., Hodkinson, P., Rainbird, H. and L. Unwin (2006) Improving Workplace Learning. Routledge, London and New York. Evans, K. Waite, E. Towards a Social Ecology of Adult Learning in and through the Workplace. In Malloch, M. Evans, K. Cairns, L. and O'Connor, B. (Eds.) The Sage Handbook of Workplace Learning, London: Sage 2011 European Commission ( 2001) Memorandum on Lifelong Learning, Brussels Illeris, K. (2011) Workplaces and Learning in Malloch, M., et al (eds).The Sage Handbook of Workplace Learning, London: Sage. Kersh, N ( 2010) The spatial dimensions of Skills for Life workplace provisionPaper prepared for the Seminar 3 in ESRC seminar series, ‘New Spaces of Education: The Changing Nature of Learning in the 21st Century’ University of Nottingham,11 February 2010. Kirpal,S.R. (2011) Technical and Vocational Education and Training: #13 - Labour-Market Flexibility and Individual Careers: A Comparative Study. Dordrecht: Springer. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2006) Understanding the social outcomes of adult learning. Paris: OECD. Weaver-Hightower, M.B. (2008) ‘An Ecology Metaphor for Educational Policy Analysis: A Call to Complexity’, Educational Researcher, 37, 3, pp 153-67. Wolf, A. and Evans, K. (2011) Improving Literacy at Work. Routledge, Abingdon.
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