02 SES 05 A, VET And Lifelong Learning: Adult Learning, Hybrid Qualifications And Credit Transfer
Parallel Paper Session
The paper explores how workplace courses designed to develop ‘basic skills’ influence the career orientations and trajectories of employees at the lower end of the earnings distribution, taking account of the interaction of personal, institutional and broader economic factors. How do shifts in career orientations that may occur as a result of participation in workplace courses, affect working practices?; how are they influenced by working practices over the long-term?. What personal, institutional and macro factors determine the subsequent development of individual career orientations and longer term trajectories?
The concept of career trajectories is typically used in work on transitions of young adults into the labour market, providing ideal type segmented routes that can be used to understand a variety of personal histories (Evans and Heinz 1994). In adult life, routes diverge, experiences diversify still further and multiplicities of new contingencies come into play ( Ecclestone et al 2009; Alheit and Dausien 2002; Biesta,2007). In researching adults’ life and work experiences, initial career trajectories take on historical significance. This paper discusses the relationships between adult employees’ individual behaviours in relation to learning (which we see as manifestations of their learning and career orientations) and the opportunities afforded to them through their workplaces. In previous Anglo-German comparative work, Evans and Heinz (1994) and Evans, Behrens and Kaluza (2000) identified ‘transition behaviours’ as patterns of activity that young people adopt in attempting to realize their personal interests and occupational goals through occupational and educational opportunity structures. Transition is a process that starts, for young adults, with educational achievement, occupational ‘choice’ (however restricted) applying for and taking up jobs as well as establishing independent personal and family lives. These processes continue in adult life with activities undertaken with the aims of maintaining employment, changing employment, balancing work and family life, finding personal fulfilment. They may be considered transitional where they involve changes in the adult’s orientations to learning and career. Behaviours in relation to learning are the patterns of activity that people adopt in relation to learning opportunities available to them, in this case workplace programmes involving the development of ‘adult basic skills’ and varying degrees of opportunity to learn through new workplace and life experiences . These are not indicative of enduring personal attributes such as personal flexibility or rigidity, but they do indicate complex sets of adults’ motivations, beliefs and attitudes towards learning and their own capabilities to achieve in and through learning ( Kirpal, 2011). These orientations can change according to specific experiences of success or failure, opportunities or setbacks at any stage. Orientations towards work and career, similarly, comprise complex sets of motivations, beliefs and attitudes rooted in actual life experiences. They involve bounded forms of agency (Evans 2002,2009;Behrens and Evans, 2002) that direct action. Using this framework allows an elucidation of experiences that are transitional for adult employees in changing their learning or work/ career orientations and allows comparisons with what actually happens in their work and personal lives after engagement in new learning, in career and personal events that ensue.
The research was carried out through the ESRC-funded LLAKES Centre: Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies.
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