Working to Learn: Transforming Learning in the Workplace

Working to Learn: Transforming Learning in the Workplace

Working to Learn: Transforming Learning in the Workplace

Working to Learn: Transforming Learning in the Workplace


The workplace is a crucially important site for learning in today's learning society. In this authoritative book, the authors look at the changing nature of the work and the effects that this has on the skill and knowledge requirements of individuals, its implications for the workplace and employment, and ways in which these changing requirements can be met. The editors are founder members of the Working to Learn group, and are internationally recognized as leading experts in vocational education and training. International in scope and based on their wide ranging experiences and research, this book brings together the implications of workplace changes for educators, managers and society. In an age where jobs and work - and the success of organizations - are increasingly dependent on developing skills and knowledge, this will be important reading for educators, trainers, human resource managers and policy makers alike.


Karen Evans, Phil Hodkinson and Lorna Unwin

Management gurus, academics and policy advisers across the developed world have insisted that higher levels of skill within the workforce are basic building blocks…for the adoption of a new model which moves economic activity out of the old Fordist and Taylorist paradigms into a new high skills, high performance mode of working. (European Commission COST Review, Brown and Keep, 1999)

The overall aim of this book is to develop an evidence-based and theoretically informed understanding of the transformations in the nature of work that affect the learning and skills requirements of jobs and individuals, and the ways in which these requirements can be met. It challenges many of the presuppositions and generalizations about the changing nature of work, skills and learning which have come to permeate thinking about the options 'on the table' for modern societies. Our starting point is that the workplace is a crucially important site for learning and for access to learning. The editors have worked together with contributing authors to develop an analytical perspective on workplace learning that takes the social context of the workplace and the wider systems for management and regulation of employment fully into account.

The need for deeper research-based insights into learning at, for and through the workplace was a conclusion from the recent national Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Learning Society Programme: 'much more needs to be known about the key processes of learning as embedded in particular workplaces, in organizational structures and in specific social practices' (Professor Frank Coffield). This position is restated in the 1999 EC review of the state of research into vocational education and training (VET), which points to the need not only to 'audit' the learning opportunities available, but also to evaluate the particular combinations of education, training, employment and community contexts which can produce 'exceptionally rewarding learning environments' on the one hand, or 'sterility, where

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