Workers’ preferences for workplace learning and pedagogies for continuing education and training
Contemporary workers in countries with advanced industrial economies are required to engage in continuing work-related learning to maintain their occupational competence and employability. Learning at and through work is now seen to be central a means of achieving the individual and enterprise specific goals. This is partially because different social practices generate and support the appropriation of knowledge in distinct ways to suit situationally relevant purposes. Essentially, knowledge requirements are shaped by local "rules, values, attitudes, expectations etc" (Ellstrom, Svesson and Aberg, 2004, p. 479) and the material, social, discursive and historical conditions and relations of work contexts (Kemmis, 2005). This appropriation requires personal reflection and collaboration with other workers and interlocutors (e.g. clients). These aspects of learning in the workplace signify the valuable contributions of workplaces as potentially rich sites to support this continuous learning. Studies informed by empirical evidence s (e.g. by Eraut et al., 1998; Collin, 2002; Billett, 2004, 2009; Fuller and Unwin, 2004) have confirmed workplaces as legitimate sites for occupational learning. Yet, although the workplaces are known as rich, potent, authentic sites and afford a range of opportunities for learning, learning is neither inherent nor is necessarily organised in educationally purposeful ways. However, specific and targeted pedagogical interventions can lead to more effective learning. Sawchuk (2010), for instance, contends that workplace learning needs to extend beyond "simply individual, taught, self-directed learning, but that learning also includes formal, non-formal, informal and tacit aspects, experiential and incidental learning, reflective learning, legitimate peripheral participation, and learning "activity" (p. 369). Such a multi-faceted view of learning through work settings supports Billett's (2006, 2009) notion of 'situated learning' that leads to diverse sets of outcomes. It therefore becomes important to make visible the types of workplace pedagogies that will best support workers' learning. This paper reports how 136 Australian workers from four industry sectors claimed they are currently learning through work and how they prefer to secure the continuous learning required for their work. These data were premised on indications of what kinds of learning experiences they engaged in and how that learning was supported by particular pedagogic practices. They report the three most common ways that they learn in the workplace are: i) Everyday learning through work (individually); ii) Everyday learning through work individually - assisted by other workers; and iii) Everyday learning + group training courses at work from employer. And three most common means for supporting that learning are: i) Direct teaching by a workplace expert; ii) Learning in a self-managed group in the workplace with a facilitator; and iii) Direct teaching in a group (e.g. a trainer in a classroom at work). The findings indicate the types of pedagogies that enterprises need to make visible to workers to assist them with continuing education and training. The analysis offers comparisons across these industry sectors and begins to set out what kinds of practices can support workers' continuous worklife learning.
8th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning
Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy