Making Space: Merging Theory and Practice in Adult Education

By Vanessa Sheared; Peggy A. Sissel et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

Struggling to Learn, Learning to Struggle: Workers, Workplace Learning, and the Emergence of Human Resource Development

Fred M. Schied


INTRODUCTION

Human Resource Development (HRD), a concept barely known until about 25 years ago, has become the dominant model for workplace education. Indeed, HRD has become the fastest growing segment of adult education (Dirkx 1996). While definitions of HRD vary somewhat, the fundamental objective of HRD is on maximizing organizational effectiveness in order to support organizational goals. Thus education, whether formal, nonformal, or informal is designed to meet these organizational goals. Watkins (1989) expands this concept in a way that reflects the total development of individuals within an organizational context. She asserts, “Human resource development is the field of study and practice responsible for the fostering of a long-term, work-related learning capacity at the individual, group and organizational level” (p. 427). Watkins further argues that the centrality of learning requires the active involvement of employees, and that retraining and the outsourcing of the workforce are two of HRD’s biggest challenges.

Carter (2000) argues that missing from this conceptualization is the central function of HRD as an all-inclusive process that links training and development in order to shape and control employees. As Rothwell and Sredl (1992) conclude, HRD professionals are instruments of control. The following statement highlights this:

HRD professionals are frequently responsible for facilitating the socialization of individuals into work settings…. As individuals are socialized, they conform to a body of articulated or inarticulated ethical standards and norms of behavior…. HRD professionals are also asked frequently by their employers to train others on...corporate codes of

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