Workplace change and skill needs: workers’ perceptions

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Dymock, Darryl
Tyler, Mark
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Laura O’Connor
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Across the world, and particularly in developed countries, workplaces are changing, arguably more rapidly than ever before, in response to external and internal forces. Altering the ways that workplaces operate inevitably requires changes in the knowledge and skills workers need. This relationship is evident in the conclusion reached by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (2013). The agency contends that the major influences on the nation's skills and workforce development needs are globalisation, technological change, the changing nature of work, the need to respond to climate change impacts, and issues of sustainability. These are very broad influences, however, raising the question of the extent to which they impact on workers, as distinct from affecting industries and enterprises. In order to examine how employees perceive the impact of change, 86 workers in various occupations in four different Australian industries were asked about current and anticipated changes in their jobs. An analysis of the semi-structured interview transcripts (part of a larger study on continuing education and training) revealed that workers tend to perceive workplace changes in terms of their immediate work tasks rather than, for example, in terms of an organisation's strategic directions or industry workforce development. That is, their need to learn as a result of workplace change is essentially based on maintaining their individual competence, and hence their employability. This focus on their own workplace practice means that the most appropriate setting for individual learning in response to change appears to be the workplace itself, and this, in turn, has implications for the way that such learning is organised

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The 22nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference 'No Frills'
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© The Author(s) 2014. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0 AU) License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
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