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April 11, 2017

Four dimensions of learning and identity development: Relational; Cognitive; Practical and Emotional

Four dimensions of learning and identity development: Relational; Cognitive; Practical and Emotional

Learning and identity development can occur across four domains, namely: relational development; cognitive development; practical development; emotional development. Learning may involve development in one or more domains and development in each domain can be achieved in a number of different ways. Although these patterns can be found in all learners, how you learn is unique to you. Knowing about these dimensions and how they work for you can help you learn more readily, or get you going afresh if you're feeling stuck. Each is described below, together with some case examples drawn from our recent research.

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Relational development - learning with and from interacting with other people

A major route forrelational developmentis learning through interactions at work, learning with and from others (in multiple contexts) and learning as participation in communities of practice (and communities of interest) while working with others. Socialisation at work, peer learning and identity work all contribute to individuals’ relational development. Many processes of relational development occur alongside other activities but more complex relationships requiring the use of influencing skills, engaging people for particular purposes, supporting the learning of others and exercising supervision, management or (team) leadership responsibilities may benefit from support through explicit education, training or development activities.

Jack from the UK had switched career and now who worked as a carer. From the outset Jack learned much about his work from engaging with residents in the care home as well as learning from other staff. He had received letters from residents expressing their gratitude, which had boosted his confidence. His manager encouraged him to become a trainer in the care home, and although nervous and unsure he delivered the training and his self-efficacy increased.

Cognitive development - acquiring knowledge and thinking skills

A major work-related route forcognitive developmentinvolves learning through mastery of an appropriate knowledge base and any subsequent technical updating. This form of development makes use of learning by acquisition and highlights the importance of subject or disciplinary knowledge and/or craft and technical knowledge, and it will be concerned with developing particular cognitive abilities, such as critical thinking; evaluating; synthesising etc.

Bernard, a Czech automotive worker, participated in a short internal company technical training programme which positively surprised him in terms of practical outcomes and motivated him to actively work on his vocational development. 'You had to know your stuff, the trainer was extremely competent, he knew his field very well, but sometimes I had difficulties to follow him. Anyway, it was really done by professionals who knew their stuff, and I appreciated it very much. I was very satisfied. I learned lots of things that were later very useful for my work […] It was very interesting to meet people from a completely different and a rather specialised area. I learned a lot of things and I was proud of it. I think this was the moment that made me change my attitude towards learning. I became much more curious.'

Question: do you find that although the knowledge underpinning your practice is important, it can sometimes be hard to transfer that into your day to day work?

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Practical development - learning by doing, by experience, by taking on challenges

Forpractical developmentthe major developmental route is often learning on the job, particularly learning through challenging work. Learning a practice is also about relationships, identity and cognitive development but there is value in drawing attention to this idea, even if conceptually it is a different order to the other forms of development highlighted in this representation of learning as a process of identity development. Practical development can encompass the importance of critical inquiry, innovation, new ideas, changing ways of working and (critical) reflection on practice. It may be facilitated by learning through experience, project work and/or by use of particular approaches to practice, such as planning and preparation, implementation (including problem-solving) and evaluation. The ultimate goal may be vocational mastery, with progressive inculcation into particular ways of thinking and practising, including acceptance of appropriate standards, ethics and values, and the development of particular skill sets and capabilities associated with developing expertise.

Davide, an Italian carpenter, saw learning as a practice-based process driven by curiosity, a spirit of observation, and trial and error. A major role was played by his passion for the transformation of matter, which he perceived as an almost sacred event: ‘It really struck me to see that from a piece of wood one can create a piece of furniture’.

Emotional development - making sense of your own feelings and how others feel

Foremotional development, the major developmental routes are learning through engagement, reflexiveness that leads to greater self-understanding, and the development of particular personal qualities. Much emotional development may occur outside work, but the search for meaning in work, developing particular mind-sets, and mindfulness may be components of an individual’s emotional development. Particular avenues of development could include understanding the perspectives of others, respect for the views of others, empathy, anticipating the impact of your own words and actions, and a general reflexiveness, which includes exploring feelings. Identity development at work may also be influenced by changing ideas individuals have about their own well-being and changing definitions of career success (Brown & Bimrose 2014).

Henrik from Denmark switched career, moving into caring and developed a new relationship with his work, which he found much more emotionally engaging. While studying for his skilled worker qualification, Henrik immersed himself in individual assignments of his own choice. In one assignment, he developed a ‘product’ to help improve a pupil’s ability to communicate, an ability which was being lost due to a rare disease. When Henrik talked about the assignment he was very engaged and showed insight into the syndrome. Because the assignment was closely related to his experience and practice, he saw meaning in undertaking it: 'It was as though there was a circle I could complete on my own.' He received a top grade for the assignment, and it is evident that positive learning experiences and the perception of entering into learning processes that are meaningful to his life and work situation are strong motivating factors in his engagement in further learning.

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Supporting the learning of others

Just as continuing with your own learning and development at work have become increasingly important, so has supporting the learning of others working with you. One way a practitioner might support the learning of an individual with the process of identity development in response to the changing world of work is by helping them reflect upon their career story, develop a sense of career direction and a commitment to their learning, professional development and career adaptability (Savickas 2011).

References

Brown, A. & Bimrose, J. (2014). ‘Model of learning for career and labour market transitions’, Research in Comparative and International Education, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 270-286.

Savickas, M. (2011). Career counselling, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.


December 14, 2011

Discussion threads relating to age discrimination and the role of guidance

Discussion threads relating to age discrimination and the role of guidance.

This discussion took place in 2005 on the old National Guidance Research Forum (NGRF). The new site is more tightly focused but it seemed a shame to lose this discussion altogether. The discussions explore a wide range of issues relating to third age guidance

This discussion explores a wide range of issues relating to third age guidance

Comment 1: Role of film in challenging age related stereotypes in guidance

There are a number of films that lend themselves to use for career discussion purposes because they help to expand understanding of particular career guidance situations. However, until an example of a distinctly 'third-age career guidance' film became available. 'About Schmidt' is about the effect of retirement on a man in his 60s who has no personal desire to retire but has to go through with it, and is then left looking for a purpose in his life - including wondering what he has achieved by his life work. I wonder if it might lend itself to use within pre-retirement courses - and if so what impact it would have on older adults attending? At the very least it could shift attention away from the attractions of the 'Saga way of life', and help them to focus on the creative use of leisure, and the value of downshifting policies and volunteering.

Comment 2: Raising awareness

I am extremely interested in the part that films of this type and quality can play in breaking down barriers, stimulating meaningful discussion within groups, raising awareness, helping to show people that they are not alone with their problems and the issues they are facing and seeking to overcome, and in creating open peer support groups. The latter is one of the most successful methods of helping older adults to re-establish confidence and direction and extend their networks leading to work, learning and other activities - as of course it is for other age groups as well.

Comment 3: Discrepancies in the level of financial support for guidance with different age groups

An interesting point about the similarities of agendas/issues between Connexions' target group of sidelined young people (Not in Education, Employment or Training) - and Third Age sector members. One crucial point of common ground is that Government has ignored the needs of both sectors of the population until very recently. They are choosing to pour all this money into Connexions to work with the NEET group of clients - but IAG remains starved of funds, as the Government seems to think that adults should make their own way forward in second/third/fourth stage of careers, with no help from any expert in career planning. Who could put their hand up and say that all members of this group enjoy such freedom of thought - not to mention multiplicity of career choice at their disposal?!

Comments 4: Strengthening the evidence-base to justify guidance funding

I think we should acknowledge significant amounts of funding have been put into adult guidance compared with say 1995. In that context to say IAG for adults remains 'starved of funds' appears to be unhelpful in that it externalises (and blames?) the problem. The key issue for the adult guidance community is to 'make a case' for further funding based on what it is achieving and by mobilising arguments to inform 'evidence-based policy'. For example, Scotland and Wales both devote considerably more resources to adult guidance. What effect has that had?

Comment 5: Raising the retirement age: implications for guidance

The point about 'making a case' will be greatly helped by issues highlighted in the recent Government consultation document on age legislation, 'Age Matters: Towards Equality and Diversity: Report of Responses on Age' (2003, DTI). For a number of reasons, including financial, increasing numbers of adults are expected to want to work after 60. The extent to which suitable opportunities will be available remains an unknown factor. This also links to concerns about savings and pensions.

More guidance for adults is therefore likely to be on the way, but in what form. Will it be sufficiently open-ended to cope with the individual's desire for a change and to give extended guidance to consider choices and opportunities. Personally I think rights to guidance on the French (bilan de compétences) system would be helpful (Gendron, 2001). In that system it is possible to get a competency audit of prior experience to fit the requirements of the education and training system or the qualifications system, but also considerable time can be devoted to the development of more individualised career plans (Bjørnåvold, J. and Brown, A. 2002), . What if everyone had the right to say three days guidance say every ten years or so?

  • Bjørnåvold, J. and Brown, A. (2002), Rethinking the role of the assessment of non-formal learning, in P. Kämäräinen, G. Attwell and A. Brown (eds), Transformation of learning in education and training: key qualifications revisited, Cedefop Reference series 37, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
  • Gendron, B. (2001) The Role of Counselling and Guidance in Promoting Lifelong Learning in France, Research in Post-Compulsory Education, Volume 6, Number 1, 2001, 67 -96.

Comment 6: Regional variations

Demographics and economic imperative are going to mean people working longer, and there are likely to be changing patterns of work and retirement. However, there are likely to be major regional, social and economic variations in the circumstances of different sections of the community. That is, even if age discrimination were effectively tackled there would still be a number of other equal opportunity remaining.

Comment 7: Relevance of the 'Challenging Age' report

Looking at the Challenging Age report published in April 2003 could be helpful to this discussion. It addresses the huge wastage of skills and loss to the economy because of the barriers faced by the 'active ageing' group of those aged between 45 and 65 years. Aimed at helping older job-seekers successfully re-engage with the job market, the report provides a model of best practice for use by the network of information, advice and guidance partnerships across the country.

The key findings of Challenging Age were that:

  • stereotypes of older employees persist, and low value is placed on the skills and experience of older workers
  • many people over 45 years want to work, learn and continue to use their abilities in their later years.
  • many want a 'second chance'; to access high quality information, advice, guidance and retraining to enable them to overcome barriers to employment
  • adult information and advice must play a key role in helping mid-life and older adults to work, learn and earn.

Comment 8: Experiences from the frontline

There are also annexes to the Challenging Age report that include reports on the focus groups and telephone interviews with frontline workers in agencies working with older adults. In these older adults and frontline workers speak about their experiences - it might be helpful if we were able to draw upon these in the construction of some 'stories' about adult guidance that would give a stronger 'human' dimension to our discussions. Others may wish to contribute their own stories - there were also some available in some separate IAG reports.

Comment 9: Activities of third age guidance

The Challenging Age research report also highlights how older adults particularly welcomed a number of guidance inputs and activities, preferably available from the same provider so that they formed an integrated whole. The favoured activities and inputs included:

  • Clear and precise descriptions of what guidance services offer;
  • Accessible, personally relevant, up-to-date and detailed information on work and learning opportunities, finance and benefits, self-employment, volunteering, and local organisations that can help;
  • Expert advice and guidance that enables them to relate the information to their own circumstances;
  • Ready access to expert information, advice and guidance on financial issues and self-employment;
  • Skilled assessment;
  • Access to computer-aided guidance packages, and information on relevant websites;
    Skilled help in relating individual skills, aptitudes and experience to the changing labour market and needs of the local community - help in drawing up personal action plans;
  • Coaching in personal presentation, writing CVs, interview techniques, jobsearch and self-advocacy;
  • Training and career development opportunities that provide them with the skills required by local employers, and which they can afford;
  • Opportunities for work trials, work sampling and work experience;
    Opportunities to form peer group support networks.

The attitudes, approaches, and skills of the helping staff are of critical importance. Staff should be able to make older people feel welcome, be able to smile and encourage, possess empathy with the issues facing older adults, have the ability to work holistically, be good advocates and have extensive local networks, and be efficient and conscientious and keep in touch.

Comment 10: Making sense of individual stories

The point made earlier about 'stories' is important. In the Challenging Age report one could see that the guidance activities and inputs that older adults particularly favour are those that help them to make sense of their own individual stories and to decide how they want to develop these next. It was clear from the focus groups that many (perhaps all?) older adults are concerned about their life contributions and how they will be remembered. They want their lives to have been worthwhile.

One of the aims of the NGRF site is to give scope for story-telling as a vivid way of trying to make sense of many of the complex issues involved both in people's lives and in the guidance process. Bill Law's Career-Learning Cafe shares similar ideas. It can be accessed on http://www.hihohiho.com/. Although Bill's initial work on story applied to guidance relates to CEG in schools and colleges, and Connexions Services, adult guidance practitioners will quickly see how relevant Bill's work is to adult guidance.

Comment 11: Narrative approaches to working with adults

I am particularly struck by the importance of Bill Law's work to adults aged 45+, and the need to help many older adults to make sense of their individual stories in order to determine their next steps. I feel increasingly that third age guidance can only operate successfully if the 45+ are given time to explore their own stories.

I think that many older adults sense this need themselves, and this is a main reason why the Challenging Age research team found that the 45+ particularly favour IAG providers that offer a range of guidance and related activities from the same site, including learning opportunities and access to caring guidance workers who are available over a period of time and are skilled listeners (Ford,G. Watkins, B., Bosley, S., Hawthorn, R. McGowan, B. & Grattan, P. (2003) Challenging Age: Information, Advice and Guidance for Older Adults. DfES: Sheffield).

Basically older adults are, consciously or unconsciously, trying to create the space they need to explore their own stories and work out what they want the next chapters to contain so that their ultimate story has real quality and meaning. Guidance workers who have well developed caring, mentoring and listening skills are able to facilitate this process. Law's work helps to show why working out one's own story is potentially such an important and powerful aspect of guidance.

Comment 12: Challenging Age report uses quotes or vignettes to convey the human dimension, examples are given below:

  • Some of the group described the feelings of panic that older people can experience because of a sense of time running out - in trying to find suitable employment, satisfy an unfulfilled sense of vocation, and in other areas of their lives. You're determined not to give up.....but people can become disheartened. Some participants had direct experience of disappointment and disillusion, accompanied by a sense of panic, in their own search for employment. Two participants had also witnessed the process in their husbands who had been made redundant, and the loss of confidence and hope that the individual can consequently experience. I could see his personality changing...he lost confidence and didn't feel good about himself any more...he hasn't been the same man since.

Challenging Age focus group, York and North Yorkshire

  • You're on the scrap heap. You have to work really hard at remaining positive and keeping your motivation and self-confidence. All the time there's this unspoken innuendo - you're too old. But we've all got something to offer employment and the community. We need opportunities to use our experience - where necessary to be trained and retrained - and to work. There are social costs here - costs to the economy, costs to health and costs to social services and the community. It's an issue that the country has simply got to get hold of because there's so much waste - at some point it could be any of us.

Challenging Age focus group member, City of Sunderland

  • Voluntary work at the centre provides "a lifeline" for one and is the "mainstay of my life", for another. One participant found that her experiences of office and care work are valued at The Bridge. Through voluntary work she has been able to re-enter employment after two redundancies, and the "distressing and discouraging" experience of being unemployed. Another who was made redundant/early retired found voluntary work at The Bridge to be so fulfilling that he no longer wishes to return to paid employment. Volunteering is a valued source of self-esteem and structure, and provides the opportunity to use and develop skills.

Challenging Age focus group, Derbyshire

Comment 14: Feeling valued?

The point made earlier about how older adults are concerned about their life contributions, how they will be remembered and how they want their lives to have been worthwhile. This helps to explain why so many of those interviewed in the Challenging Age research shared an intense dislike of job centre staff who wanted to shunt them immediately into inferior and unsuitable jobs to get them off the unemployment register. Many adults wanted opportunities to develop their careers through training (within work, outside work, through volunteering) and wanted a fresh start (that is, not necessarily their old job but to develop latent interests and skills currently under-developed).

It was also apparent that volunteering work suited the skills and values of large numbers of older adults in ways that the current workplace appears unable to do. Would it be possible to pay stipends for volunteering (as is done in the States) and might we be able to enable many more older adults to provide the cement which holds together local communities through volunteer work? Is it necessarily a good thing for the economy that many more older people should be encouraged to stay in their existing work and/or in conventional paid work? Should we looking at ways of enabling many more to work within the voluntary sector?

There are fundamental issues here. High quality, targeted and effective third age guidance can help many more older adults to continue to lead productive and useful lives. This could help them to die content and feel they will be remembered (sounds bleak but this is almost certainly a universal desire which we do well to remember - and so should politicians concerned with the quality of life and the economics of happiness).

Comment 15: The importance of practitioner attitude

The point made above that the attitudes, approaches, and skills of the helping staff are of critical importance and that staff should possess empathy with the issues facing older adults, have the ability to work holistically, be good advocates and have extensive local networks, and be efficient and conscientious and keep in touch has parallels with Connexions. The requirements of staff dealing with the Connexions groups are similar - and indeed there is a strong argument for a Third Age Connexions or similar provision if the country is genuinely going to do something about using the vast and often wasted reserve of skills and potential possessed by the 45/50+.

Challenging Age raises issues concerned with the move into active retirement - however, much more work is required on guidance for shifting into active retirement, and the variety of routes from gradual and planned to sudden and unexpected that can be taken.

Comment 16: Further reading on this topic

Geoff Ford and Jim Soulsby's Mature Workforce Development: East Midlands 2000: Research and Report, prepared for EMDA and obtainable from NIACE.

This report includes over 200 pages of brief outlines of third age policy and research reports and resources, classified under the following categories: key national policy documents; the changing situation; employment; recruitment and employment services; community involvement; lifelong learning; special groups; overcoming barriers; and consulting older people.

Life after 50: Issues for policy and research edited by Donald Hirsch. Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2000.

This reviews relevant research under 3 headings - older people and paid work; the income dimension; and active participation beyond employment. Donald Hirsch produced this to inform the JRF 50+ Transitions Programme, and to identify priority gaps within which to commission research. Third age guidance methodology was identified as such a gap.


August 22, 2011

Career Adaptability

The European project on Changing patterns of learning, working and career development across Europe has now been completed - the linked final report was produced in 2010.

The work was extended with qualitative interviews with participants from England and Norway in a follow-up study for UKCES on career adaptability (the ability to continue to make successful transitions across the lifecourse), which was published in August 2011: details and links given below:

Bimrose, J., Brown, A., Barnes, S-A. and Hughes, D.(2011) The role of career adaptability in skills supply, Evidence report 35. Main Report. Wath-upon-Dearne: UKCES.

Bimrose, J., Barnes, S-A., Brown, A. and Hughes, D.(2011) The role of career adaptability in skills supply, Evidence Report 35. Technical Report. Wath-upon-Dearne: UKCES.

We are, however, continuing to examine how people’s careers are changing and how people develop career adaptability - so we still interested in your experiences, so please contact us for further information.


November 09, 2010

Research on career adaptability

The current focus of UK skills policy is on four policy areas (economic performance; skills demand; skills supply; and jobs and skills mismatch), based around concerns with organisational productivity, sectoral and regional policy, education and training, the labour market, and reducing inequality and promoting social mobility, while addressing three key underlying issues: individual aspiration; employer demand; and responsive provision (UKCES (2010) Ambition 2020: World Class Skills and Jobs for the UK).

What is missing from this set of concerns, however, is any sense of progression of individuals through work across the life-course, particularly insofar as this involves moving between sectors. As a consequence, a dynamic element of how individuals become engaged with learning and development pathways, which involve upskilling, reskilling and sometimes transformational shifts in perspective as their careers develop, is largely absent from current policy analysis.

The GLACIER group at IER believe this gap could be filled with a focus on ‘career adaptability.’ Our current research in this area builds upon a major ten country enquiry into changing patterns of career development across Europe, which highlighted how some people were much more successful than others in negotiating a series of work-related transitions. Additionally, it extends international research from a seventeen country study into the concept of career adaptability, which we believe to be a key element in understanding successful transitions and accumulation of skills at the individual level.

The concept of career adaptability is strategically important because whilst ‘employability’ seeks to ensure that individuals can find a place in the labour market, ‘career adaptability’ is concerned with the development of, and support for, the capability of an individual to make a series of successful transitions where the labour market, organisation of work and underlying occupational and organisational knowledge bases may all be subject to considerable change.

The aim of this study is to assess and develop existing (national and international) knowledge about career adaptability, with particular emphasis on skills accumulation, in order to provide a platform for the development and support of career adaptability in a UK context. The objectives include exploring the potential of the concept of career adaptability to empower individuals to take positive decisions and actions regarding their skills development; and investigating the influence of particular labour market conditions in supporting career adaptability (through an Anglo-Norwegian comparison).

Using career adaptability as an analytical framework, helps address the issue of readiness of young people for different types of employment: ‘adaptability’ provides real purchase on this issue precisely because it can be examined in terms of individual proactivity, relational issues and quality, structure and nature of institutional support (examples from engineering, accountancy and healthcare show how career adaptability can be fostered and developed as a process extending right through to ‘experienced worker’ status and how the lack of challenge and support in work can undermine earlier preparations prior to employment). It can also help highlight the value placed on different types of knowledge, skills, qualifications, experience in their learning and skill development. We will be looking, in particular, to make a qualitative comparison of successful transitions in the UK and Norway. Norway is an interesting comparator because it has a buoyant labour market and low unemployment and would help us answer the question relating to the extent to which career adaptability takes different forms in different structural contexts – career adaptability is likely to be influenced by the dynamic interaction of structural and agentic factors.

Separately, a detailed conceptualization of career adaptability is being be derived from an ongoing seventeen country study in which IER is participating. Whilst career adaptability is derived from a psychological perspective, it is also influenced by psycho-social factors (through the interaction with others) and structural factors (such as the provision of careers guidance and other forms of support in making transitions). The proposed research will therefore enable a deeper understanding of the potential role of career adaptability in employment and skills policies derived from a range of contrasting international contexts.


July 26, 2010

Tranferability of doing things well in different domains

Here is a reply I made at Lifelong Learning Symposium in Glasgow

It is also linked to the point about value of learning languages and seeing things from a different perspective and I think that one of the things is that although the confidence issue can be partly addressed by the need to do something well, which is where I started when I was talking about some of the different sort of settings in which to perform well and what effects that had in terms of confidence and self esteem. I think that developments in the cognitive dimension can be linked with other forms of development: you can be good with people, understand their feelings, get a sense of place, as affective and psycho-motor skills can be developed too. The example I always give, which again is from another TLRP project in which was involved, looked at teaching and learning in special areas like music and sport. It had a number of researchers in Scotland and England and one of the students in the project was at The Royal College of Music. She was a singer and she performed and made a presentation at an event where the young people themselves talked about the research and performed and it was very instructive in terms of what she did. She performed as a singer and it was stunning, but in her reflections on the research she also recognised that her skill set in terms of what made her a really good singer (although she also recognised she wasn't going to make a career in terms of singing) also led to a degree of self-reflexiveness. She was able to say what I am aware of is my body in terms of what I have to do in order to produce this sort of performance and have to reflect upon and so on and so forth and from that she said ‘I think I’d make a pretty good psychotherapist’ and you thought yeah I bet you would. There was that sense of the confidence from doing something well that spills over into other areas and it is that sense of allowing people to excel in other areas other than just the cognitive which is important.

for further work in this area in music, see: http://www.cps.rcm.ac.uk/CPS/Research; http://www.cps.rcm.ac.uk/CPS/People/Staff/Perkinshttp://www.tlrp.org/proj/phase111/L2P.htm

see also: http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/HigherSkillsComm.pdfon Higher Skills Development at Work


June 26, 2009

Innovation in learning and development

Here are some documents that may be of wider interest as well may be being of some use to support members of the innovation group? The Learnovation project drew attention to the following documents:    

[February 2009] Innovating to Learn, Learning to Innovate.This book published by the OECD summarises and discusses key findings from the learning sciences, shedding light on the cognitive and social processes that can be used to redesign classrooms to make them highly effective learning environments. Read more >>

[January 2009] Innovative learning measures for older workers.Published by Cedefop. Devising attractive lifelong learning (LLL) measures to address the needs of mature employees, is a challenging task. The challenge has as much to do with changes in the world of work (workplaces) as the need for new policies in learning (training institutions). Read more >>

[January 2009] European Innovation Scoreboard 2008: Summary of the situation in the 27 Member States. The 2008 report improves the methodology with a revised set of indicators which give more importance to service sectors, non-technological innovation and innovation outputs. Overall innovation performance is calculated on the basis of 29 indicators covering seven dimensions of innovation. Read more >>

[December 2009] On Creativity: Towards an understanding of creativity and its measurements.This paper published by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre aims at constructing a preliminary understanding of research on creativity and the possibilities of constructing a “creativity composite indicator” using large scale surveys and other existing statistical tools. The paper reviews some perspectives on creativity. Read more >>

[December 2008] New Skills for New Jobs. Adapting to change and ensuring the correct matching between labour market and supply is crucial if EU countries want to remain productive and competitive. The rapid change implies that EU countries have to become pro-active and be able to anticipate in order to be better prepared for future challenges. This is why EU Member States have asked the European Commission to report on future skills requirements in Europe up to 2020. Read more >>

[November 2008] School's Over: Learning Spaces in Europe in 2020: An Imagining Exercise on the Future of Learning. This IPTS report uses a rigorous imagining approach to develop an alternative way of organizing learning in Europe whereby the traditional school system no longer plays a significant role. This study shows that, on the basis of phenomena already present in Europe today, it is possible to invent a discontinuous model of how people learn and how what they learn is used in everyday life. Read more >>

[November 2008] Exploratory Research on Social Computing (ERoSC). The ERoSC project has been carried out by the Information Society Unit at IPTS during 2007 – 2008. The project is part of the Joint Research Centre's exploratory research scheme which aims to build competences in strategically relevant scientific fields. The publications are:
- Social Computing: Study on the Use and Impacts of Collaborative Content
- Social Computing: Study on the Use and Impact of Online Social Networking
- An Empirical Analysis of the Creation, Use and Adoption of Social Computing Applications
- The Socio-economic Impact of Social Computing: Proceedings of a validation and policy options workshop

[November 2008] The use of ICT to support innovation and lifelong learning for all - A report on progress. The report describes how the use of e-learning has developed in Europe since 2000. It assesses the impact of ICT on school and higher education, while taking other education sectors into account. ICT are not yet sufficiently present in Europe's education systems, and reforms must be introduced to adapt them to the technological changes sweeping through our societies. This is the main conclusion of a report adopted by the European Commission. Read more >>
Press release (available in EN, FR, DE)

[October 2008] Learning 2.0: A Study on the Impact of Web 2.0 Innovations on Education and Training in Europe. The objective of this study is to assess the impact of web 2.0 trends on the field of learning and education in Europe and to see where Europe stands in terms of using web 2.0 innovations in the domain of learning. Read more >>
Database results, 217 submitted cases

[October 2008] Compendium of Good Practice Cases of e-learning. Cases selected by Members of the ICT Cluster. The cases collected in this Compendium are examples of good practice in e-learning in Europe. They were all selected by countries participating in the ICT Cluster and Peer Learning Activities managed by Directorate General Education and Culture (DG EAC). In total, 43 cases were selected and described. Read more >>

[September 2008] OECD's Final Report, Thematic Review of Tertiary Education. Tertiary education policy is increasingly important on national agendas. The widespread recognition that tertiary education is a major driver of economic competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-driven global economy has made high quality tertiary education more important than ever before. Read more >>


June 19, 2009

Gendered talking styles when learning in groups

Writing about web page http://edrev.asu.edu/reviews/rev108.htm

The following is an interesting take on the extent to which time spent talking on task and establishing rapport in a group is gendered. Here is a short extract from Education Review (a journal of book reviews) on 'Hayes, Elizabeth; Flannery, Daniele D. with Brooks, Ann; Tisdell, Elizabeth; and Hugo, Jane. (2000). Women as Learners: The Significance of Gender in Adult Learning' reviewed by Richard W. Race, (Keele University):

'Hayes suggests that talk in the classroom needs to strike a balance between report talk and rapport talk. She contrasts this perspective with one that simply favors the practice of teaching women to become more adept at report talk. Her concern with the latter approach is that it ignores an important benefit of women's more tentative approach, namely its sensitivity to multiple sides of an issue. Helping women make better use of report talk, however, might enable them to exercise their voices more effectively in work and academic settings. In the end, Hayes points out the wisdom of efforts to expand the talking-style repertoire of both men and women. 

Hayes concludes the chapter with the reminder that there are multiple voices and multiple identities that need to be honored in all learning environments. Because domination by one cultural voice should be resisted, adult educators ought to examine the connection between voice and power in their classrooms, workplaces, and other sites in which teaching and learning take place. Hayes argues that the best solution is to strive for collective voice and shared power. And she asks the following question to foster thinking about ways to realize such a solution in practice: "How might we support women in developing individual and group voices?" (p. 109).'


June 16, 2009

Future imperfect: high skills and low wages?

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/glacier/learning/

Europe as a whole, following the Lisbon Goals, had a plan to become a globally competitive knowledge society, as part of a high skilled, high wage economy. This view is shared by the UK government with their desire to move towards higher value-added products and services underpinned by a commitment to higher skills and workforce development. However, any consideration of whether this approach will be successful needs to be placed in a context of the strategies in which other global players, both companies and countries, are engaged. Phil Brown, Hugh Lauder, and David Ashton have been researching in this area and through their TLRP associate project on 'Globalisation and the Skill Strategies of Multinational Companies: A Comparative Analysis', which examines the future of skills in the new global competition, including China and India. It is based on extensive interviews with leading companies from North America, Europe and Asia, along with senior policy-makers across seven countries. It challenges current policy assumptions about the role of education and skills in the global knowledge economy and their findings are very thought-provoking.....

Phil Brown, Hugh Lauder, and David Ashton argue that, in common with other developed economies, Britain has advocated the creation of a high-skilled, high-waged economy by upgrading the education and skills of its workforce. Such policy prescriptions rest on the idea of a knowledge economy where innovative ideas and technical expertise hold the key to the new global competitive challenge, with Britain well placed to become a 'magnet' economy, supplying the global economy with high skilled, high waged workers. But the recent success of China and India in moving into the production of high value-added, high-technology products has caused political leaders and their advisors to re-evaluate the global economic challenge. The OECD recently acknowledged that emerging economies including China and India were moving up the value chain to compete with Western companies for high-tech products and R&D investment, so Western economies need to focus on their ability to introduce change, innovation and productivity growth. The challenge is to outsmart other national economies - whether established or emerging - in the 'knowledge wars' of the future.

Their findings challenge the policy mantra of a high-skills, high-wage economy. While the skills of the workforce remain important, they are not a source of decisive competitive advantage. Many countries, including China and India, are adopting the same tactics as the UK. It is how the capabilities of the workforce are combined in innovative and productive ways that holds the key. High-skilled workers in high-cost countries will have to contend with the price advantage of university graduates in developing economies. The main threat to high rewards for large numbers of highly skilled workers in the West, however, will not come principally because they are being outsmarted by graduates in China and India, but because companies are discovering new ways of doing the same things in more cost-effective ways: through the spread of 'Digital Taylorism' to knowledge work. One consequence could be that in the early decades of the twenty-first century the rise of the high-skill, low-wage workforce may become a feature of the developed as well as the developing economies. The rewards associated with graduate careers could become very unevenly distributed.

Digital Taylorism does not eliminate the importance of employee motivation nor the need for good 'soft' skills such as self-management and in customer-facing activities. The standardisation required to achieve mass customisation still needs customers to feel that they are receiving a personalised service. This demand may contribute to a continuing demand for university graduates. But their occupational roles will be far removed from the archetypal graduate jobs of the past and we need to consider the prospect of a high-skilled, low-waged economy for the UK. The one-dimensional view of education as a preparation for employment is not a reflection of labour market realities, but an attempt to maintain the idea that justice, efficiency and the good life can be achieved through the job market driven by economic growth. There has never been a time when alternative visions of education, economy and society have been more important.

For a four page research briefing on this topic, see 'Are we witnessing the rise of a high skilled, low waged workforce?' In the 24 page TLRP Commentary on 'Education, globalisation and the knowledge economy'Phil Brown, Hugh Lauder and David Ashton consider the implications of the global skills race; the globalisation of high skills; competition based on quality and cost; global skill webs; where to think?; knowledge work and the rise of digital taylorism; creating a war for talent; the importance of 'skill' in corporate investment decisions; qualifications, skills and competence; and wider policy implications. 


Being a student, becoming a worker and how important is the way you look?

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/glacier/

Work identities possess both an individual and a social dimension, influencing how individuals and others see their work and themselves. Identity gives people a sense of who they are and a sense of who they may become. Interestingly, a student identity is often stronger than a prospective vocational identity and people often choose to become students even in a vocational area for reasons other than a strong commitment to work in that area and even where they are so committed, their intentions may change? What are the consequences of so many people seeking work outside the sectors for which they have apparently been trained?

So links between the subject a student studies and the work they wish to do is complex, social but also deeply personal - linked to a sense of identity and 'who I am.' However, employers make choices too and are they extending the range of personal characteristics which they seek to control? 

Many employers are now stressing the importance of employees' personal characteristics, such as 'looking good and sounding fine'. What are the consequences of this trend for identities at work? Some employers now specify personal characteristics in lists of 'skills' they require for certain jobs. Some employers now stress their prospective employees' personal characteristics, involving, for example, 'looking good and sounding fine'. The personnel manager of a hotel was implementing changes in working practices aimed at the reception staff, but complained: 'they just won't smile.' There are issues here around the extent to which attributes are seen as separate from the person – and as 'skills' to be developed.

In customer-facing occupations employers may emphasise personal characteristics to such an extent that they are looking for people who are "passionate, stylish, confident, tasty, clever, successful and well-travelled" (Warhurst and Nickson, 2001, p.14). How many people does this rule out, irrespective of the skills they possess, if an employer is essentially looking for someone who will project the 'right image'.

Grugulis et al. (2004) argue "there is an increasing tendency for organisations to manage the way their employees feel and look as well as the way they behave, so that work is emotional and aesthetic as well as (or instead of) productive......In the 'style' labour market of fashionable hotels and bars the appearance, deportment, accents and general stylishness of the bartender, waitress or retail assistant are part of what makes the service being offered trendy and upmarket (Nickson et al., 2001)" (p.7). Staff have to look good and sound right and recruitment and selection processes try to ensure that they do (Nickson et al., 2001). "But it is not only in this environment that grooming, dress sense, deportment, manner, tone and accent of voice and shape and size of body become vital. Workplaces as diverse as call centres, training consultants, investment banks and accountants all recruit, train and promote staff on their emotional and aesthetic 'skills'....... Managers may seek to control employees’ "language and body posture, the length of their skirts and their hairstyles, their weight and the size of their bust, hips and thighs, the make up that they wear, the way that they shave (both faces and legs), their jewellery and shoes and the colour of their hair (Hochschild, 1983; Paules, 1991; Warhurst and Nickson, 2001; Nickson et al., 2001; Thompson et al., 2001)......In emotional and aesthetic labour, employees’ feelings and appearance are turned into commodities and re-shaped to fit their employers’ notions of what is desirable (Putnam and Mumby, 1993; Thompson and McHugh, 2002). This process may be enjoyed by employees and may equip them with skills that advantage them both in and out of the workplace (Leidner, 1993; Nickson et al., 2001). But it may also lead to exhaustion, burnout (Hochschild, 1983; Kunda, 1992), an inability to accept or engage with emotions in the private sphere (Casey, 1995) and high levels of turnover (Leidner, 1993; Korczynski, 2001)" (Grugulis et al., 2004, pp7-8).

Grugulis et al. (2004) concludes "Ainley argues that "at rock bottom, the real personal and transferable 'skills' required for preferential employment are those of whiteness, maleness and traditional middle-classness" (1994, p. 80), and Nickson et al.’s (2003) study of aesthetic labour suggests that many of the particular skills in personal presentation, self-confidence, grooming, deportment and accent that Glaswegian service sector employers are seeking are liable to be linked to the parental social class, and family and educational background of the job applicants" (p. 10).

If you want to follow this up, at the moment, this chapter is available on-line from the publisher's website as it serves as an introduction to the book as a whole: see 'What's happening to skill?' follow this link.

Grugulis, I., Warhurst, C. and Keep, E. (2004) ‘What’s happening to skill? In Warhurst, C., Grugulis, I., and Keep, E. The skills that matter, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. 


June 11, 2009

Tell us your career 'story'

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/research/current/copen/eaceasurvey

Tell us your 'story' - of how you have developed since starting work - whether doing the same work or moving through a series of jobs?

As a team of researchers from eleven European countries, we are researching how people’s careers are changing across Europe, and initial results show some very interesting patterns, so we are interested in your story too - please follow link to an online survey http://www.warwick.ac.uk/go/eaceasurvey (available in 11 languages).  The survey may take up to 20 minutes to complete. Your identity will be treated in the strictest confidence by the research team and the information you provide will be anonymised.  The results of the study are feeding into a European review of how best to support individual learning and career development. 

We would also be grateful if you could forward this link to contacts and colleagues who you think may also be able to help.

With many thanks in advance for your help.

European Careers Research Team (see: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/research/current/copen/ for core team and for details of full team http://www.warwick.ac.uk/go/eaceasurvey).


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